Remember, remember the 5th of November… not necessarily for the bonfire or fireworks this year, more for the buffeting winds and heavy rain that swept across the country causing flooding in some areas. Severe gales are expected to strike again as more low pressure systems (whipped along by a strong jet stream) approach from the Atlantic.
According to the Met Office the UK is facing greater risks of storms and flooding between now and January due to the effects of potentially the strongest El Nino since 1948. November to January they predict the risk of stormy weather and gale force winds is expected to be greater than usual for the time of year, along with higher-than-average rainfall, which could cause flooding across the UK.
So it’s not surprising to discover more rodents during periods of flooding, especially if the water table rises and remains high for some time. Rats have been known to swim great distances when their burrows have been destroyed by storms or flooding. Rats will also find their way through drains (especially if the pipework is damaged), other plumbing and cracks in masonry to enter properties in search of food and shelter, often making their way into lofts to nest. They are also able to find their way up toilets, as they can swim through the water in the u-bend.
Rats are more likely to spread diseases during flood conditions. David Cross, head of technical training academy at Rentokil warned: “Rats carry a particular health risk in flooded areas, as their urine contains leptospires which can survive outside the rodent’s body for longer periods in extreme wet conditions.”
The leptospires within the rats’ urine can cause Leptospirosis (commonly known as Weil’s disease) in people. Spirillary fever (Rat-bite fever) and Hantavirus are two other pathogens that can be transmitted from rats and mice to people via food and water contaminated by rodent urine and excrement. It is therefore advisable that anyone dealing with flood water, clearing up after flooding or even just in contact with waterlogged ground where rats may have been active, should take a few precautionary steps:
- Cover any cuts or grazes with waterproof plasters
- Wear waterproof clothing, especially waterproof gloves
- Try to avoid swallowing any contaminated water
- Wash hands thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking
If you are unfortunate to suffer the effects of flooding this winter, when repairing your home try to rodent proof it at the same time. Seal exterior holes and gaps with wire wool or caulk, add bristle strips to doors, secure galvanised mesh over air bricks and fix any broken pipework that could allow rat’s easy access to your property.