Pest infestations are a hospital’s worst nightmare. Rodents, cockroaches and flies not only endanger patient health but may also cause structural damage and harm the institution’s reputation.
Maintaining a pest-free environment can prevent regulatory issues and improve patient comfort and satisfaction.
This guide identifies prevalent pests and the best practices in hospitals for pest control and infestation prevention.
What Are Common Pests in Healthcare Facilities?
Cockroaches multiply quickly and eat almost anything, including old food, animal droppings and human feces. Because of their diet, they carry harmful bacteria and viruses that can lead to illnesses like salmonellosis, leprosy, cholera and typhoid fever. They’re most active at night and hide in cracks and crevices during the day.
Tell-tale signs of a cockroach infestation include:
- Molted skins
- Black grainy droppings
- An unpleasant, musty odor
- Tiny chew marks on belongings and food packaging
In hospitals, cockroaches are usually found in janitorial closets, laundry areas, food service bars, vending machine areas, loading docks and locker and break rooms.
Mice and rats are common troublemakers in basements, garbage spots, laundry areas and food service areas. They chew through almost anything and leave droppings everywhere.
Below are common signs of a rodent infestation:
- Chew marks on food packages
- Holes chewed through walls or floors
- Nesting materials like shredded paper, fabric, or dried plants
- Rodent droppings near food, in drawers, or under the sink
- Stale smells from hidden spots
Apart from causing damage to structures, rodents carry diseases like Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which is spread through contact with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva. This viral infection can lead to severe respiratory problems.
On the other hand, leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread through contact with infected rodent urine or contaminated soil or water. This illness causes flu-like symptoms.
Tiny at just 2 millimeters, pharaoh ants are sneaky indoor pests. Despite being a tropical species, they adapt well to temperature-controlled environments. They don’t require soil and can create nests in confined spaces like wall and floor voids. Remarkably, they can establish colonies in unexpected places, such as between books and linen sheets.
In healthcare settings, pharaoh ants can infest incubators in maternity wards, IV tubing and other sensitive equipment. While not recognized as disease carriers, their presence can indirectly impact patients and staff by contaminating food and food prep surfaces.
Bed bugs are tricky to get rid of because they multiply fast and hide in tiny spots. They don’t spread diseases, but their bites can lead to itchy, red welts, triggering allergic reactions and asthmatic symptoms. Picking at bites may also result in infections.
Signs of an infestation include eggshells, bloodstains on sheets and a musty smell. They’re usually found on laundry spaces, patient beds and furniture.
Flies in hospitals can quickly pick up and spread harmful germs. Since flies often land on and consume excrement, carcasses and garbage, they can contaminate food stored or sold in your facility.
Flies can be found anywhere, particularly in critical areas like intensive care units (ICUs), food carts, autopsy rooms, surgical suites, and garbage disposal areas.
Birds such as pigeons, starlings, seagulls, crows, and sparrows are notorious pests and disease carriers. They are often found on rooftops near HVAC units and air ducts.
Birds can cause significant damage to hospital buildings, including:
- Windows freezing due to droppings
- Roof leaks and clogged rain gutters caused by nesting debris
- Degradation of glass, plastic, vinyl, aluminum, and steel surfaces from droppings
- Interference with signage, AC vents, solar panels, light fixtures and security cameras by nesting debris
Best Practices for Pest Control in Hospitals
Thoroughly Inspect Food Deliveries
Food deliveries provide an easy entry point for pests. Be sure to establish strict protocols regarding food deliveries and inspections. Staff members should promptly check deliveries for signs of pests like droppings and damaged packaging and discard anything contaminated.
Additionally, inspect stored food items at least twice a month. Keep dry pantry goods on shelves to keep them out of reach from pests.
Promptly Fix Leaks and Clogs
A poorly maintained plumbing system can attract rodents, flies and cockroaches in search of moisture. Promptly fix clogs, secure floor drains, and caulk entry points around pipes.
Monitor Entry Points
The simplest way to keep pests out of your hospital is to close all potential entry points. Install screens on windows and seal up any cracks or holes in walls and floors. Keep doors closed, and use door sweeps to block any gaps. Regularly trim trees and bushes to prevent rodents from quickly accessing upper levels, windows and the roof.
Practice Proper Waste Management
Pests are attracted to food and shelter, and piles of garbage provide both. In hospital settings, it’s crucial to swiftly clean up trash, securely tie and seal filled trash bags, and promptly move them to outdoor bins.
Regularly empty and clean flower pots and birdbaths to eliminate stagnant water, which can be potential hiding and breeding spots for pests.
Invest in Routine Pest Control for Hospitals
While the tips above can aid in prevention, only professional pest control for hospitals can effectively contain and manage pesky intruders. At Pest Control Unlimited, we diagnose and treat the root cause of infestations to avoid future problems. We thoroughly test products and use effective extermination practices to ensure the safety of your patients and staff.
From homes to healthcare facilities, we inspect and treat all types of properties across New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Call us at (888) 649-9919, or contact us here to know more about our services.