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Why pest control is critical during covid-19

Pest control services are critical for many businesses because it provide protection from the risks emanating from pest infestation. These are significant risks for many organisations that society relies on to satisfy core needs of food provision, healthcare and elderly care. There are also the broader benefits to society from providing services to residential properties or those institutions that provide employment and/or experience.

At a time of increased pressure on the core areas of food and health, it’s crucial that we protect these premises from further risks caused by pest activity. There’s the broader issue, too, of the risk to human health from pest activity, which could place additional pressure on the healthcare infrastructure in places such as hospitals.For example, rats carry a wide range of bacteria that can lead to diseases.

There are many types of pest that infest the human environments and are vectors of a wide range of diseases. These pests include rodentsfliesmosquitoes, stored product insects, cockroachesticks and fleas. These pests can contaminate food and surfaces or transmit diseases directly through bites. The consequences of this risk to public health are considerable and include the spread of the following types of pathogen:


Bunyaviridae, Flaviviridae, Arenaviridae, Reoviridae


Spirochaetes, Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Fusobacteria, Bacilli


Sporozoa, Cestoda, Trematoda

Pests are a nuisance to businesses

Pests are a nuisance to businesses, cause stress and impact the wellbeing of individuals, and cause infrastructural damage that can halt operations – of anything from production lines to server rooms. Because society relies on digital networks and production lines of strategic businesses, it’s critical that pest control is maintained

The rapid breeding cycles of pests means that left untreated for any length of time their numbers can increase rapidly and result in them spreading to new areas:

  • Rats: after just three months a pair of rats can produce about 10 offspring. After six months, fifty rats can be produced. Rats reach sexual maturity after four to five weeks, meaning that a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in one year. Rats and other rodents destroy a significant portion of the world’s food supplies, spread diseases and cause physical damage to buildings and fittings such as wiring by gnawing and burrowing.
  • Flies: a pair of house flies will lay 75 eggs which will go through a complete lifecycle in 10 days, therefore over a 30-day period, in ideal conditions, you could end up with more than 100,000 flies. Flies spread filth picked up on their bodies from their feeding habits and transfer it to food and surfaces, along with many types of pathogen.
  • Cockroaches: Pest cockroach species can live up to 15 months in ideal conditions with high humidity and a constant supply of food. Based on 20 eggs completely developing into reproductive adults, in 90 days of favourable conditions a single female cockroach could give rise to population of 400 insects. Cockroaches transmit a range of diseases through filth on their bodies and in their droppings. Their droppings and moulted exoskeletons generate allergenic particles that cause asthma.

Pest management works at several levels to ensure that infestation is avoided and, if it does occur, is eradicated quickly. Constant monitoring – either by trained technicians or connected sensing devices – allows pest control experts to keep track of any activity and intervene at the earliest sign of any infestation.

This quick response mitigates the risk and associated impact of a pest infestation developing further. The reproductive rate of rodents and insects is extremely fast and any slowing down or removal of pest management can drastically increase the infestation and the resulting consequences for individuals, businesses and society.

Why Rentokil’s pest management is a critical service

1. Reduces the risk of disease and illness

Infestations of pests or, in some cases, the presence of just one can lead to increased health risks for humans in critical environments such as healthcare and food handling. It’s essential to disrupt the transmission cycle of vector-borne diseases, with the far-reaching consequences for human health that can range from a mild illness, a serious condition that requires hospital treatment to death, disability and in some cases. Vector-borne diseases affect about a billion people worldwide each year and food-borne diseases cause 400-900 million cases of illness each year, according to WHO.

  • Salmonella and Campylobacter – these bacteria are two out of four key global causes of diarrhoeal diseases. They are widely distributed in domestic and wild animals, rodents, filth flies and cockroaches. They cause illness in 550 million people each year
  • Dengue virus is spread through Aedes mosquitoes and causes 100–400 million infections each year. There is a mortality rate of less than 1% when detected early and with access to proper medical care. The severe form of dengue has a mortality rate of 2–5% when treated, but when left untreated the mortality rate is as high as 20%.
  • Leptospirosis is probably the number-one risk to humans as it presents symptoms similar to COVID-19 in the early stages. In 2018, it led to 800 deaths and a reported mortality rate of 1–2%.
  • Rat-bite fever, caused by Spirillum minus and Streptobacillus moniliformis, is transmitted by rodents and is found mostly in Japan – although there have also been cases in the US, Europe, Australia and Africa.  Untreated cases have a mortality rate of up to 10%.
  • Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) – approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC in the US annually; in Europe, more than 360,000 cases have been reported over the last two decades.
  • West Nile virus is a member of the flavivirus genus and is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Of those infected, 80% will not show any symptoms, 20% will develop symptoms that include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea, vomiting, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph glands. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness that affects the central nervous system, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).
  • Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral fever that’s usually transmitted by ticks. Outbreaks of CCHF constitute a threat to public health services because the virus can lead to epidemics and has a high case to fatality ratio (10–40%).

Reduces the costs to businesses and organisations

2. Reduces the costs to businesses and organisations

In previous research, Rentokil identified the cost of an infestation to businesses has been significant. The impact across the food supply chain can be anything from stoppage of production to loss of food as a result of contamination, damage or consumption by pests.

In a report commissioned by Rentokil, the estimated value was $9.6bn at production sites across five countries. As the world increasingly relies on a digital infrastructure, the protection of connected equipment is critical – in both corporate and residential settings.

A survey of businesses commissioned by Rentokil found that 49% reported electrical damage caused by rodents. In the current health crisis, losses to digital connectivity could have a profound impact on local, regional or national society.

  • In Singapore, operators of building or mall managements whose premises are found to have rat infestation shall be liable on conviction to a fine of up to $5,000 for the first offence

In addition to the risks to infrastructure from pests – and resulting impact on businesses, authorities and society as a whole – there are a number of other areas that are also under threat. Ongoing pest management is vital to prevent both short and long-term damage.

Reducing or removing pest control services can lead to rapid explosions of pest populations that could damage societal "assets", which include museum artefacts, residential property, and office buildings and complexes. A lock-down only applies to humans; pests carry on their business regardless. If anything, they multiply exponentially and thrive, uninterrupted by humans.

Essential to include disinfection treatment in your protection regime

Besides having adequate pest control measures to enhance food safety and prevent the spread of diseases, disinfecting and sanitising the premises should be an ongoing effort. This is because as we assume more openings and engage in more activities or interactions, cross contamination can occur. Disinfection can help to eliminate 99.99% of bacteria and viruses including the Coronavirus, Influenza A and E. Coli. This involves misting of a water-based solvent that can perform cleaning activities using the residual effect of the disinfecting agent. Find out more about the Rentokil Surface Shield Disinfection Solution today.

Remove 99.99% of pathogens

Role of pest management

The role of pest management is critical to protect the following facilities.

  • Health facilities need to be insulated from additional pressures from patient numbers while maintaining a pest-free environment in which to treat patients.
  • The food supply chain needs to operate at optimal levels to minimise risk to food production and cross-contamination from animals to humans.
  • Facilities that house large groups or vulnerable members of society who are susceptible to health problems, such as those in elderly care, large residential complexes or prisons.
  • Infrastructure that is critical for the normal functioning of society, such as digital networks and utilities.
  • Commercial premises and residential properties so that staff, visitors and households can live their lives without the risks to their health, wellbeing or finances caused by pest infestations.

If we remove expert pest control services in emergency situations or during times of great uncertainty, we run unnecessary risks and jeopardise the health and wellbeing of people and the foundations upon which our society rests and needs to flourish.

Our services are critical for many businesses because we provide protection from the risks emanating from pest infestation.

These are significant risks for both people and institutions; from food supply chain to retail to property management to schools. At a time of increased pressure on the core areas of food and health it is crucial we protect these premises from further risks caused by pest activity.

There are many types of pest that infest environments and can be vectors of a wide range of disease, each of these reproduce rapidly and so any pause in protection could have extremely damaging consequences to people and/or infrastructure. These pests include termitesrodentsmosquitoesflies and bed bugs, here in Singapore, this could impact businesses and public health.  

Our expertise will ensure we minimise these risks by operating safely and diligently through these challenging times.

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