One of the reasons why pests are an unwanted presence in any home is the fact that many are carriers of nasty viruses and bacteria that can infect humans. The most familiar example to people in Singapore is probably the dengue virus that is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito.
While less-talked-about, other pests also play a role in spreading harmful pathogens to humans. Here are some common pests and the dangers they pose to human health:
Besides dengue, certain species of mosquitoes can also spread numerous other diseases like the Zika virus and Chikungunya. Most mosquito-borne diseases are carried by the Aedes mosquito. On the bright side, Singapore has been malaria-free since 1982, and Chikungunya, West Nile fever, and Rift Valley fever are not endemic in Singapore. Nonetheless, it pays to be vigilant to control mosquito populations.
Although there is no evidence that cockroaches are direct vectors of disease that spread to humans, cockroaches can play a secondary role in the spread of certain illnesses by carrying harmful substances from place to place. This is due to their tendency to feed on filthy items, which may bear pathogens, bacteria, or viruses. Another big concern regarding cockroaches are allergies, where their saliva, faecal matter, and shedded body parts can trigger sneezing, runny nose, or asthma attacks.
Rats are well-known as transmitters for numerous diseases, including, but not limited to, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, lassa fever, plague and rat bite fever. While many of these are not common in Singapore, rising rat populations are still a problem as they can carry filth and contaminants into our living spaces, water, and food.
According to the World Health Organisation, house flies can facilitate the spread of more than 65 diseases. These include diarrhoeal diseases, skin and eye infections, such as cholera, conjunctivitis, salmonellosis, and typhoid fever. Although they do not bite humans, flies spread disease by carrying these pathogens from place to place, for example, into human food and water.
Protecting you and your family from illness
These pests are very common in Singapore, and we probably encounter one or some of them every day. The key to defending you and your family from these pest-related illnesses is by taking measures to control their population in your home, and maintaining high levels of hygiene – especially in food preparation and storage.
The first improvement you can make is to the garbage disposal area in your home. Wash it regularly, keep the bin covered, and clear the trash daily – these steps greatly reduce the chances of pests being attracted to your home.
Secondly, always observe good food preparation habits, like washing your hands before handling any food, and avoiding cross-contamination of cooked and raw food.
Finally, it is worthwhile to inspect your home every once in a while for signs of pest infestations. If you detect signs of a growing pest problem at home, it is advisable you engage a pest control company to look into it for you.