DTY Cockroach
Are you exposed?
Why PMPs should take precaution with personal protective equipment


During your workday, are you exposed? As a pest management professional (PMP), you have become quite competent in rodent management. While you serve public health by controlling rodent populations, are you serving your own good health by eliminating your exposure to rodent-borne pathogens?

Rats and mice vector more than 35 diseases. Diseases spread directly to humans via rodent handling, and contact with blood, saliva, bites, scratches, urine, scats, carrion and others. Diseases spread indirectly to humans via fleas, ticks and mites that feed on infected rodents.

One potentially serious disease spread via rodent urine and scats is salmonellosis. Additionally, birds, rabbits, cats, dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, horses, cattle, monkeys, snakes, lizards and wildlife spread salmonella. Consuming water or food that is contaminated by rodent scats generally spreads the disease.

Salmonellosis is a common bacterial infection of the gut. Symptoms include fever, headache, cramps, mild to severe bloody diarrhea and occasional vomiting. Blood infections can be very serious. Typhoid fever is the most severe type of salmonella infection.

Photo credit: TTSZ

Within six to 72 hours after infection, fever and diarrhea occur. Incubation periods of up to 16 days have been observed when exposed to low salmonella doses. The bacteria can be carried for several days and possibly many months.

To prevent nosocomial infections, hand washing is essential as salmonella is found in both feces and diarrhea. If you are generally healthy, treatment includes drinking lots of water to prevent dehydration and prescribed antibiotics.

When conducting rodent control services, you should assume potential pathogen exposures exist and take appropriate precautions. The essential precaution is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

All PPE must be used in accordance with OSHA regulations (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I: Personal Protective Equipment). Companies should ensure all technicians receive training and then demonstrate an understanding of when to use PPE; what PPE is necessary; how to properly put on, use, take off, properly dispose of and maintain PPE; and the limitations of PPE.

PMPs should comply with the following protocol while on the job:

  • Avoid unprotected, direct physical contact with dead rodents.
  • Wear appropriate to situation PPE when in direct contact with rodents (properly-fitted safety goggles, disposable gloves, disposable shoe covers or boots, a NIOSH-Certified respirator [N95 or higher] and disposable fluid-resistant coveralls).
  • Respirator use must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). If you require a N95 (or higher) respirator, you must be medically cleared, fit-tested and trained.
  • Reusable PPE should be cleaned until visible soiling is removed, and then disinfected.
  • While wearing PPE, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose after touching any contaminated material.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or use the bathroom while wearing PPE.
  • Perform good hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand soap after removing PPE.
  • Shower at the end of your workday, and leave all contaminated clothing and equipment at work.
  • Never wear contaminated clothing or equipment outside the work area.

Additionally, technicians should safely remove PPE in sequence:

  1. Clean and disinfect boots, if worn.
  2. Remove boots or shoe covers.
  3. Remove and dispose of coverall, if worn.
  4. Remove and dispose of gloves.
  5. Wash hands with soap and water.
  6. Remove goggles and respirator.
  7. Clean and disinfect reusable goggles and respirator.
  8. Wash hands with soap and water again.

Don’t be exposed! Take care of yourself by eliminating your exposure to rodent borne pathogens with proper PPE.

Stuart Mitchell, D.O., DVM, PsyD, BCE, is a board-certified family practitioner and entomologist, and a regular contributor to Pest Management Professional's Direct to You series.

PMP’s Direct To You provides pest management professionals with educational refreshers on timely and critical topics essential to operational success. This content is not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice where you live. Look for the content-rich PMP Direct To You archives at mypmp.net/direct-to-you-archive.

This newsletter was produced by North Coast Media’s content marketing staff in collaboration with Bell Laboratories.

Photo: ©istock.com/ttsz

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