Q & A: Healthcare Facilities & Pest Management
What are the most common pests that healthcare facilities encounter, and what health threats do they pose to patients and staff?
Healthcare facilities are susceptible to most of the pests common in most houses and businesses. Ants, fire ants, bedbugs, cockroaches, ticks, fleas, mice, mosquitoes, rats and spiders, among others, can all slip into buildings as people and deliveries come in and out. Pests can gain access in backpacks, boxes, delivery vehicles and on people and their belongings.
Pests can transmit a host of diseases to humans and animals with effects ranging from minor discomfort to death. Some diseases spread by pests include:
* Bubonic plague * Rabies
* Cholera * Rocky Mountain spotted fever
* Dengue * Salmonellosis
* Encephalitis * Shigella
* Dysentery * Staph
* Hantavirus * Strep
* Lyme disease * Tapeworms
* Malaria * Trichinosis
* Murine typhus * Typhoid fever
* Polio * West Nile virus
A study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a report in the New England Journal of Medicine show that even among many common asthmatic triggers, cockroach allergens cause the most health problems for asthmatic children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.
Pest-transmitted diseases can be controlled through proper pest management techniques. Identification of species, habitat and behavior can help a pest management professional control infestations and subsequently suppress outbreaks of pest-transmitted diseases.
Is it feasible for a facility to employ its own staff members to sustain a pest-free environment?
Just as a facility wouldn’t employ an unlicensed nurse or doctor, the National Pest Management Association recommends that they not take a chance with an untrained and unlicensed pest control professional. If in-house pest management is required, make sure that the individuals are qualified. Arming untrained personnel with pest management tools can be dangerous and most facilities depend on outside pest management firms.
Licensed and professionally trained pest control professionals are best suited to keep health and property-threatening pests in check. Today’s pest control professionals are experts in every sense of the word. They are trained in the latest techniques and necessary to identify pest problems and recommend the safest and most responsible pest management methods available.
Pest control professionals undergo training to meet state regulatory and certification requirements. They participate in industry workshops and forums to further their knowledge of the field. All states offer pesticide applicator certification programs, which require testing on chemical properties, selection, usage rates and safety. To remain certified, most states require continuing education, which includes the latest information about on-site pest management needs assessments and state regulatory requirements.
What are the most important steps to ensure proper pest management?
Pest management plays a major role in allowing us to live healthier, more prosperous and comfortable lives. To ensure proper pest management always deal with a qualified and licensed pest management company that is a member of national, state or local pest management associations. Membership in the national, and state or local pest control associations is a good indicator that the company has access to modern technical information and is committed to further education.
Reach a complete understanding with the company before work starts; find out what the pest is, how the problem will be treated, how long the period of treatment will be, and what results can be expected. Effective treatment depends on correctly identifying the pest species and developing a treatment that takes the pest’s biology and habits into account.
In between professional pest control visits, employees can take a variety of steps to reduce the likelihood of infestation and ensure proper pest management. They should remain vigilant in assessing their environment. Encouraging employees to wipe down exposed areas, secure trash lids, maintain a clean floor space and keep windows and doors fastened will go along way in helping to prevent infestations. Employees can also track pest sightings in a pest sighting log – recording the type of pest, location and behavior. This will help a pest management professional when they come in to evaluate the facility.
Can pest-control be managed without the use of insecticides?
While it’s true that insecticides are used in pest control, the pest management industry is in the forefront of widespread efforts to make insecticides part of the program, not the only means to pest control.
The result is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a process that goes beyond traditional pest management techniques. Though centuries old, the latest IPM techniques have found broad-based support from the scientific community, government, and the pest management industry.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a broad approach to pest management that focuses on addressing the reason that the pest problem exists rather than on just the pest itself. IPM accomplishes this by eliminating the three things pests need to survive: food, water and shelter. There are three common steps involved in practicing IPM. They include inspection, pest identification, the establishment of control measures(such as caulking cracks in sidewalks or walls, moving dumpsters away from buildings and appropriate pesticide applications),. To be acceptable, the pest management measures must be both environmentally compatible and economically feasible. The NPMA has advocated IPM for years through seminars, publications, and by supporting its techniques nationwide.
IPM is the springboard of pest management into the new century. It is the smart way to conduct pest management.
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