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Don't be bugged by pest problems

07 March 2013

Savvas Othon, technical director of Rentokil offers some tips on implementing a pest prevention strategy in a hospital environment.

Savvas Othon, technical director of Rentokil offers some tips on implementing a pest prevention strategy in a hospital environment.

Hospitals are a challenging environment for the professional cleaner as they are busy places, with high volumes of footfall, and patients are more vulnerable to infection. It's not just the commonly thought of pests such as rodents that pose a problem; but also more unusual species such as pharaoh ants and bedbugs.

Why are hospitals at risk from pest outbreaks?
Hospitals are large,warm and food is readily available; all of these factors make excellent breeding conditions for pests. It is worth noting that in most cases, infestations are a result of a problem with the hospital infrastructure rather than cleanliness. In particular, rodents can remain undetected and can contaminate environments through their urine, droppings and hairs so it is essential that hospitals have a strategy in place to protect against rodent infestations.

There are simple measures which can be taken to help prevent a rodent infestation. For example, stacking crates and boxes away from the wall to ensure you can check what's behind them, sealing holes in walls, ensuring refuse on site is kept in closed bins, and looking after and cleaning pipes and drains regularly. Rentokil have recently developed a new thermal imaging treatment to deliver more effective identification of pest control problems, using infra red technologies.This will give management access to pest-related information they would otherwise be unable to see such as rodent's harbourages in wall cavities and burrows.

Another pest to be aware of is the bed bug. Bed Bugs are easily transferred to new environments and as patients and their families move throughout the hospital, bedbugs can travel with them, in clothes and on baggage.

Bed bugs are able to get behind headboards, light switches and peeling wallpaper as well as under carpets and skirting boards.Telltale signs of an infestation include faecal pellets, blood spots and a distinct smell which can be caused by the bed bugs if the infestation is serious. Live insects and bites are other obvious signs.

Don't delay action With bed bugs, prompt action is key as with early detection and innovative treatments such as Rentokil's chemical-free: Entotherm insect heat treatment, you can prevent them from spreading to other parts of the building.Vigilant house-keeping is a powerful weapon too, so employee education, as it is with all pests, is key here.

Pharaoh ants are considered a serious pest in the hospital environment as they can carry disease organisms.They are able to quickly establish colonies of up to 300,000 individuals and feed on high protein foods, including blood. If they find a bloody bandage they could cross contaminate other patients very easily.

With all pests, prevention is better than cure and using expert pest controllers is the sign of good proactive management. A good pest controller should be able to anticipate and prevent potential pest risks in the hospital. Rentokil has developed PestNetOnline, an online pest control reporting system. It is the first technology of its kind that enables hospitals to review the status of their pest control 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across multiple sites from a single web page. It is ideal to help manage pest control in large buildings or across a number of sites, highlighting and prioritising any pest control risks and pest prevention recommendations.

Ultimately, the warm hospital environment is attractive to pests and a strong pest prevention strategy will help thwart a potential outbreak.