Covid-19 and Pest Management – A Perspective from Bayer Pest Solutions UK

The current situation that the UK, and the world, finds itself in as it struggles with the grip of Covid-19, is unprecedented. The worldwide pandemic has impacted every level of our lives - from the tragedy of loss, the fear of unemployment, to the inconvenience of running out of toilet rolls. Every aspect of our lives will be impacted. In a rollercoaster 3-hour period last week a close relative had her A-levels cancelled, her part-time employer closed, and her driving test was cancelled for at least 6 months. I am sure that families around the land are being tested in similar, and in many cases, more tragic ways.

However, in the pest control industry we can be assured of one fact in a confusing and contradictory world. Pests do not stop! They do not adhere to curfew, they do not allow shopping hours for the vulnerable and key workers, they do not enforce a 2-metre contact rule, and they do not worry about contaminated surfaces. In fact, given the opportunity they thrive, and if unchecked, they can make a severe situation catastrophic. When food is scarce, they will consume and contaminate it, when people’s health is compromised, they spread infection and disease, and when the country is required to stay in our homes, they can destroy properties, causing fire and flood. And as a country finally starts to win the battle against a disease like Covid-19, pests could be the forgotten transmitter that resurrects the spread of infection.

The Need for Critical Worker status

Given the risks associated with pests, it is of vital importance that the pest industry in the UK, and beyond, is seen as an essential part of the battle against Covid-19. Indeed, our Bayer colleagues in the USA are working with and supporting pest professionals who are classed as essential workers, helping the US battle the virus and control the negative impacts of pest infestation. Bayer fully supports the work being carried out by our colleagues at the British Pest Control Association and the National Pest Technicians Association to highlight the vital role of pest managers in the UK, and where Bayer can we will use our influence to guide governments throughout the world. On the first morning of the UK lockdown it is essential that professional pest controls continue the battle to protect public health.

Bayer Pest Solutions Industry Support

Bayer will also use our knowledge and experience to support and guide the professional pest industry in the UK. We will endeavor to keep our products available and support our key distributors. It is essential that our customers have access to the tools required to control pest infestations and to maintain disease and infection free environments. Our Pest Solutions team experts are also still at the end of the phone to help with any technical issues about products and pests – if you need our support please use our knowledge and expertise. The future weeks could be lonely ones for our pest control community, so please reach out if we can help.

Will This Change the Face of Pest Management?

It is probably too early to say, but in the short term without pest management in a ‘National emergency’, the key food stores and manufacturers that are supporting the UK may suffer, as will essential services such as hospitals, care homes, schools… the list is a long one. We also must consider the issue of people being restricted to homes with pest infestations that cannot be controlled, not good for general health or mental wellbeing. With many business locations on lockdown, without access for pest management we may see a rise in pest problems later in the year when shops and services re-open. Where possible, these sites should remain open to pest management services, as if they do not, we run the risk of having to deal with a rise in pest related infections, just as we turn the corner with Covid-19.

In the medium to long term we may find that technology has more of a role to play in the management of pests, especially in key manufacture and service industries. If food manufacturers go into lock down, limiting site access to protect workers and concentrate on production, technology may be able to offer a level of management and continued service on such sites. Remote monitoring technology could also allow the professional pest controller to maintain links with their sites and keep their customers informed of pest activity, allowing the quick and efficient control of pests before they become a serious issue. Technology will in many cases allow us to communicate effectively and work successfully from home during a lockdown period – in the future it seems impossible to picture a pest industry that doesn’t grasp the benefits that technology offers our pest managers and their customers.

Unprecedented, but Pest Controllers have crisis experience!

Some may remember the foot-and-mouth crisis in 2001. Foot-and-mouth disease is a viral infection that affects cloven hoofed animals. During this crisis professional pest controllers were at the heart of the operation to stop the disease spread, as rats moving between farms were potential carriers of the virus. I, along with hundreds of other pest controllers, spent many months working on farms to control rats and slow this disease. It was long, hard work and required strict controls around PPE and disinfection to prevent transmission between sites. It was devastating for the farmers and communities involved. However, with hard work and management, foot-and-mouth was controlled, and communities recovered. We as the pest control industry can make a vital difference, and although it may not seem so now, we will return to a level of normality in the future. The pests will still be here, and we will still be vital to manage them.

Safe Working

As pest controllers we potentially work with disease every day. We understand risks and we understand how to control them. However, these are unparallelled times with an invisible threat. If we are carrying out pest treatments to protect the vulnerable, our hospitals, care-homes, food manufacturers and supply chains, we need to protect ourselves and our families. Always refer to the government guidance and use the excellent tools and information that have been developed by our UK pest control trade bodies designed to keep you safe and protect their professional and committed members.

And remember, the Bayer Pest Solutions team is here to help if we can. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need our support.

Stay well, stay safe and stay vigilant.