What impact can flies have on your business?

Houseflies can be a huge threat to businesses, especially those operating within the food industry. Compared to other pests such as rodents and cockroaches, flies are responsible for causing the highest number of staff illnesses. But why is this?

Well, houseflies (along with other species of filth flies) spread a range of harmful diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that houseflies are capable of transmitting at least 65 diseases. These diseases can have an impact on both customer and staff health, resulting in damage to income, brand reputation and staff retention.

Diseases spread by houseflies

Unlike other insects such as mosquitoes which transmit disease directly into your body, houseflies are not biting insects and are indirect rather than direct vectors of diseases. The WHO states that houseflies are carriers of diarrhoeal diseases, and skin and eye infections.

It has also been proven that houseflies can transmit foodborne pathogens and their associated toxins and antibiotic resistance. Areas in close proximity to animal production sites are at higher risk of suffering foodborne diseases from flies.

food-borne illnesses

Housefly-transmitted diseases

types of house fly diseases

Houseflies are known to carry and spread these diseases:

  • Cholera
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Dysentery
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Shigellosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid fever

How do house flies spread diseases?


Houseflies often feed on rotting and decaying matter, including human and animal faeces. When a housefly feasts on a food source infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites they accumulate the pathogens within their oesophagus or digestive system.

Unlike other pests, flies can only feed on liquid or semi-liquid substances as they lack the mouth parts to bite or chew. When it comes to solid food they will regurgitate a liquid consisting of saliva and digestive juices which breaks down the food into a liquid substance, allowing them to feast. Due to this feeding habit, any microorganism living in their oesophagus will be transmitted to the item they are consuming.

Similarly, any bacteria living within their digestive system can infect items they defecate on.

Flies can also transmit pathogens by physical means. Areas where they feed, the food items themselves, as well as their preferred breeding sites, can be infected with pathogens. Because of this house flies can pick up particles containing bacteria and viruses on the tiny hairs on their legs and body. When a fly lands on a human food product or any other item, any pathogen which is in the attached particles can easily be transmitted to where it lands.

How can you catch a housefly-transmitted disease?


The most common form of transmission is by consuming contaminated food products and liquids.

You can catch a housefly-transmitted disease by consuming any food or drink which a house fly has: regurgitated, defecated, urinated, or landed on. Transmission can also occur from using contaminated cooking utensils, cutlery, and eating utensils.

You can also catch a housefly transmitted disease through direct contact and by touching an infected product then touching your eyes or open wounds such as scratches and sores.

How to prevent housefly transmitted diseases

house fly disease prevention

The prevention of flies and housefly diseases can be done by taking some proactive measures to reduce the presence of flies in and around your home or business.

Food hygiene

Following correct food hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of housefly diseases. This can be done by ensuring:

  • Raw ingredients are stored in a hygienic manner and fruit and vegetables are thoroughly washed before use
  • Cooking and eating and drinking utensils are properly cleaned before and after use
  • Food preparation areas and processing machinery are kept to a high standard of hygiene

Adhering to the necessary food standards and regulations will help eliminate any bacteria spread by flies. It will also aid in making your business less attractive to them, reducing the risk of diseases being spread.

food safety

Eliminate breeding sites

Common breeding sites for house flies such as garbage, animal sheds and excrement are the main sources of housefly-borne diseases.

Eliminating these breeding sites will reduce the risk of houseflies picking up disease-causing microorganisms and also help reduce the flies themselves.


A proper waste management system should be in place to ensure waste units aren’t overfilled and are regularly emptied. Bins should have a tight lid secured at all times and units should be regularly cleaned.


Washrooms should be regularly cleaned and all pipes should be running smoothly to reduce build up and overflow. Fly screens should be installed over ventilation covers and drains to prevent house flies from entering.

Where there is livestock, dung should be stacked to reduce the surface area and covered with plastic sheets and other fly-proof materials.

Professional fly control

The most efficient way to prevent housefly diseases is with the help of a professional pest control company. A professional exterminator will be able to offer proactive services and solutions to both control and prevent houseflies.

Lumnia fly killer

Lumina is a new, innovative, pest control solution from Rentokil designed to effectively exterminate flies in a hygienic manner by eliminating the risk of contamination.

led fly killer


Our new fly control solution uses patented LED technology by using a UV-A LED lights, which is more attractive to flies than phosphor lamps found in traditional electric fly killers. This use of LED also reduces energy consumption and offers an average energy savings of 61%.

Need help with fly control? Contact your local pest control expert today.

contact a rentokil expert

Jack Lyons

I joined the Marketing and Innovation team at Rentokil in 2015, and my mind has quickly become accustomed to the weird and wonderful world of pests. Outside of work my main hobby is music, being a huge fan of bands such as Queen and Led Zeppelin as well as being an avid drummer.

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