Rodent warning after floods

Householders are being urged to take precautions to stop rodents getting into their homes after the recent floods have driven rats and mice to look for new nesting sites on higher ground.

Pest control company Pestforce, in Shropshire, has reported over a 40 per cent increase in call-outs to homes and businesses since Christmas.

Pest controller Jim Eaton said: “It’s not only humans who have suffered flood damage to their homes. Rats and mice have been flushed out of their burrows and nests on lower ground and they’ve been heading for high warm and dry environments.”

      The company has received over 50 different call-outs to rodent infestations since Christmas, as compared to an average 25 - 30 at this time of year.

Areas closest to rivers, brooks and streams have been the worst affected. Up to eight rats were removed from the attic of a block of flats in Frankwell, Shrewsbury, for an example, but most problems have been caused by mice.

      “Mice have been getting in through airbricks and into the cavities and then into houses," said Mr Eaton.

       A number of cases have clustered around the Radbrook area of Shrewsbury where the stream runs along the bottom of gardens.

      And Mr Eaton warned householders not be complacent about the potential threat posed to human health.

“The problem of rodent infestation not only relates to physical damage, such as gnoring, contamination of food products, chewing through cables or droppings. It’s a potential pubic health threat because rats and mice carry some very nasty diseases,” he said.

Leptospirosis, that causes mild flu-like symptoms and, in some cases, can lead to heart failure or internal bleeding, is carried by 80 per cent of mice and 14 per cent of rats.

Both salmonella and E.coli bacteria survive in rodent droppings for long periods. E.coli causes severe vomiting and can be potentially life-threatening.            Hantavirus, a notifiable disease in the UK, is a potentially deadly rodent-borne viral infection that can be contracted through contact with rodent faeces, urine or saliva and inhalation of dust from droppings.

“Householders and business owners can help to protect themselves and their property by taking simple precautions,” said Mr Eaton.

“Don’t leave food lying around, including spillages from bins and bird tables, block up holes and look for potential entry points. If you can get a pencil into a gap then that will be big enough for a mouse to squeeze through.

“Look for gaps underneath external doors and seal them with draft excluders. Repair any damaged vents. Look for gaps where pipework and cables enter buildings and seal them with waterproof fillers.

“A breathable mesh grill can be fitted to airbricks to deter mouse invaders. These can be purchased at DIY stores.

“Also cut back overhangng trees or vines that might allow rodents to climb into roof voids through gaps in the eaves.”

When clearing infestation sites it is essential to wear respiratory protection and disinfect thoroughly using specialist products.

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