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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.
Northern Arizona researchers Kasey Yturralde and Richard W. Hofstetter tested four different products, none of which successfully drove away bed bugs.
With bed bugs bunking just about everywhere these days, people battling the bloodsucking insects may be tempted to try their hand at driving them away. But ultrasonic bug zappers, which retail for less than $25, aren’t the solution, say entomologists who tested some of the devices.
Northern Arizona researchers Kasey Yturralde and Richard W. Hofstetter tried out four different ultrasonic devices available on Amazon: one designed specifically for bedbugs and three that claimed to repel insects and small furry mammalian pests.
Their simple experimental design consisted of two 5-gallon buckets lined with sound-muffling insulation that were connected by a tube. An ultrasonic device was placed in one bucket, and eight to 10 bed bugs were placed in the tube.
More care was given to how the bedbugs were housed in the lab. The researchers kept them in large jars, like those used for canning, which were placed in bins full of soapy water. And every lip or edge over which a rogue bed bug would have to crawl was covered in a slippery substance a little like liquid Teflon, Yturralde says, to keep them from escaping.
In test after test, the bed bugs showed no preference for either bucket. None of the four devices drove the bed bugs away.
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INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT PROGRAM KEY TO SUCCESSFUL PEST CONTROL
Hulett Environmental discusses the importance of creating an integrated pest management (IPM) program
IPM is a process involving common sense methods and environmentally friendly solutions for controlling pests. The approach incorporates three basic steps: inspection, identification and treatment by a pest professional.
The goal of IPM is to stop pests before they invade homes. Developing an IPM program with a professional will give homeowners peace of mind that they will be protected against pest-related health and property threats.”
There are a few standard pest prevention protocols in every IPM program. Pest experts at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Hulett recommend the following techniques:
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Screen vents and openings to chimneys, and keep tree shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
- Eliminate sources of moisture and keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Keep counters, floors and other surfaces clean and free of crumbs.
- Store food in plastic or glass containers with secure lids.
- Vacuum often.
From the West Nile virus and Yosemite Hantavirus outbreaks to Lyme disease and the plague, it could be argued that 2012 was the year of pest-related infectious diseases. But, there were also some weird and wacky pest stories that grabbed headlines over the past twelve months. Here’s the list of the top five pest stories of 2012, as ranked by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA):
West Nile Virus (WNV) Outbreak: The mosquito-borne WNV outbreak became the second-worst in the history of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 5,387 cases of WNV disease in people, including 243 deaths in 2012.
Hantavirus and the Plague: Ten people fell ill and three died from exposure to deer mice infected with Hantavirus after staying in tent cabins at Yosemite National Park. A Colorado girl was also infected with the Bubonic Plague, a rare disease that wiped out one-third of Europe in the 14th century.
Acorn Crop Boosts Ticks: This spring, the tick season was heavier than in previous years due to an increase in 2010’s acorn crop and a decrease in the white-footed mouse population this year. These strange events forced many ticks to find new warm-blooded hosts – humans, which caused a surge in Lyme disease.
Spider Calls Woman’s Ear Home: One of the strangest and most unusual stories of 2012 has to do with a spider that was recently removed from a woman’s ear canal after doctors found it living inside for five days.
Termite Species Re-Identified: An aggressive termite species was recently re-identified in Broward County, Fla. Native to the Caribbean, tree termites — once thought to have been eradicated in the United States — can cause widespread property damage in a short period of time. This species is being carefully watched by experts because it’s difficult to control with existing treatment methods.
For more pest news or to locate a qualified pest professional, visit www.pestworld.org.
The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.
Bedbugs, Spiders, Bats and Other Pests Give Homeowners Nightmares During the Halloween Season
This Halloween, vampires, ghosts and goblins will not be the only ghoulish creatures haunting the night; bedbugs continue to make a startling resurgence in U.S. residences, spider infestations are up, and wildlife pests such as bats plague homeowners across the country.
Scary movies aren’t the only thing giving homeowners nightmares this season. As temperatures begin to plunge, pests everywhere begin to seek respite in the very areas you want them the least – your home.
Pests such as bedbugs are actually very similar to one of our favorite Halloween characters – the vampire. A nocturnal creature, bedbugs are bloodsucking pests. As they bite human skin, they inject an anesthetic-like liquid that numbs the skin and allows them to bite undisturbed. In fact, humans don’t usually wake up when they are being bitten; however, they do find themselves scratching circular, red, itchy welts in the morning.
Luckily, a bedbug bite doesn’t transform you into a bedbug; the way a vampire bite makes you a vampire. In fact, the only good news about bedbugs is that their bites do not transmit disease to humans.
Other ghoulish pests cannot make the same claim. Bats are the culprits behind 72% of rabies cases in the U.S. between 1990 and 2002; and various species of spiders found in the United States pose serious health threats and require vigilant control procedures.
“Homeowners have an easy way of waking up from this type of house nightmare,” commented National Pest Management Association Vice President of Public Affairs Missy Henriksen. “Pest professionals have the training and expertise to assist homeowners through this type of home horror.”
For further information on these nightmarish pests or to find a pest professional in your area, visit bugs.com and www.pestworld.org.
While rodents are unwelcome house guests, the real concern is that these pests can cause property damage and carry disease. Rodents such as mice and rats spread salmonella and Hantavirus by contaminating food and preparation surfaces. They can also chew through wood and electrical wires, in some cases sparking house fires.
It’s much easier to prevent a rodent infestation than to remove them after they’ve turned your home into their new residence. Here are a few steps homeowners can take to keep their homes rodent-free:
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home to help prevent rodents from finding easy entryways.
- Keep shrubberies cut back from the house and store firewood a good distance away. The NPMA recommends that you tore firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five inches off the ground.
- Rodents can hide in clutter, so keep areas clear and store boxes off of the floor.
- Keep food in tightly sealed containers and clean up crumbs and spills.
- If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.
For further information on rodents or if you have other questions related to your pest control needs, visit www.bugs.com
Occasional invaders are pests that find their way into your home once in a while. They are typically looking for food, warmth, or just lost their way and stumbled into your home. Traditionally they are not disease-spreading pests and will not cause any kind of structural damage to your property.
Ladybugs, boxelder bugs, spiders, and cluster flies are all examples of this type of pests.
The good news about occasional invaders is that once they are inside they don’t reproduce or feed, but are just a nuisance with their presence. Some of these pests, like the ladybug, are actually beneficial pests! Remind yourself of this as you scoop them up from your windowsills during the winter months. Ladybugs feed on a wide range of insects making them a pest that you want to have around – just not INSIDE your home!
The best strategy for dealing with occasional invaders is preventing them from penetrating your home. However, once they are already inside, depending on your tolerance level you can remove small amounts of nuisance pests simply by vacuuming them up. If there are too many pests inside or if you have a lower pest tolerance, a pest control professional will be able to assist you in controlling your infestation. Just remember, if you vacuum them up you should remove the bag when finished. Seal it in a plastic bag and dispose of it with your normal garbage.
There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of occasional invaders:
- Keep all kitchen areas clean (including floors) and free of useless clutter. Kitchen appliances should be kept free of spills and crumbs. Clean shelves regularly and store foods such as cereal, flour, and dog food in resealable containers.
- Periodically sweep and vacuum floor areas in the kitchen, under furniture, and around dining areas.
- Keep garbage areas clean. Garbage should be stored in sealed containers and disposed of regularly.
- Seal cracks, crevices, and other gaps around doors and windows. Doors and windows should always be kept closed or well screened.
- Check pipes and pipe areas around the house for leaks, cracks and gaps and seal and patch any problems if necessary. Leaky faucets should also be fixed.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. If you have mold and mildew in your home or office crawlspace, it’s a symptom of an excess moisture problem.
- Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly. Insects have also been known to come in on potted plants and in luggage.
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