Rodents may be the vector of several diseases which include hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Lassa fever, leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, Omsk hemorrhagic fever, plague, rat-bite fever, salmonellosis, South American arenaviruses (Argentina hemorrhagic fever, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever), and tularemia.

Best Practices for Controlling Rodents

  • • Conduct a comprehensive survey to determine the size and scope of rodent infestation and identify causes and conditions contributing to their existence.
  • • Eliminate all sources of food, harborage, and where possible water.
  • • Make sure that all trash and organic materials are bagged and are kept in containers with tight-fitting lids and removed at least twice a week for organic material and at least once a week for trash.
  • • Pick up and dispose of all fruits and nuts which have fallen from trees as well as garden vegetables and berries.
  • • Remove food after dogs and cats have been fed and make sure that the areas are perfectly clean and free of remnants. Bulk birdseed and pet food should be stored indoors in containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • • Remove all abandoned vehicles, old furniture, unused appliances, tall grass, dense undergrowth, and remnants of pruning, and prune all bushes to keep them off the ground and separated from each other. Keep trees at least 6 feet away from the house or utility wires. Elevate all firewood at least 18 inches above the ground and keep at least 12 inches away from walls and fences.
  • • Seal all openings into structures.
  • • Set snap traps or glue boards instead of poison baits nearby active rodent signs.
  • • Wear rubber gloves and a respirator when cleaning out an area where there are mice or rats, their droppings, urine, or nesting materials. This also includes the removal of dead rodents. All this should be put into a plastic bag and double bagged before being taken for disposal.
  • • Ventilate all areas that are contaminated by rodents and decontaminate the area with a 10% solution of bleach. Dispose of all sponges or other cleaning materials along with the contaminated material itself.
  • • Discard all food or single service items that have come in contact with rodents, their feces, or urine.
  • • Thoroughly clean all food preparation or storage surfaces and dispose of the cleaning sponges, and then sanitize using a bleach solution.
  • • For a large rat infestation in a community, see “An Example of a Successful Program: Community Rodent Control, Philadelphia, 1959-1963” in Chapter 1.
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