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Insecticide Use in Houses

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Typical urban insect pests of public health significance are listed in the World Health Organisation (WHO) publication Public Health Significance of Urban Pests. According to WHO, insect pests of public health significance include; cockroaches, bedbugs, fleas, pharaoh ants, flies and mosquitoes. Cockroaches, Pharaoh ants and flies are included as pests of public health because they can carry pathogenic microorganisms. Cockroach allergens can also cause allergic asthma. Apart from the diseases they spread, mosquitoes are classified as insect pests of public health significance because they are a 'biting nuisance' and can induce immunogenic and allergenic reactions in humans due to repeated biting. It is for these reasons that bedbugs and fleas are also classed as nuisance pests.

In addition to the WHO information, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK offers a list of 'nuisance insects', many of which are of importance in domestic premises in the UK. The increase in bedbugs, Cimex lectularius, reported in UK dwellings in recent years is of particular interest and may result in further public health problems, reinforcing the need for rigorous control of such pests with biocides. Climate change is also predicted to have major effects on flies of public health significance in domestic premises, thus climate change models have predicted that housefly, Musca domestica, and blowflies, Calliphora spp populations could increase substantially, with increases of up to 244% by 2080. In light of this predicted increase in numbers, the role of houseflies as vectors of pathogenic organisms is likely to take on greater importance. Laboratory models are also showing that houseflies, Musca domestica are able to transfer Clostridium difficile, one of the so-called 'hospital superbugs'. This indicates that fly control with biocides is expected to be of increased importance in the future. Another possible consequence of climate change is the increased reporting of mosquitoes as public health pests in the UK. Mosquitoes are an issue in the UK and Culiseta annulata and Culex pipiens have been sampled (Figure 4) from areas close to domestic premises and more recently Culex spp, Aedes spp and Culiseta spp have been collected from domestic areas. Mosquito Watch, a nuisance biting reporting scheme for mosquitoes, lists 116 confirmed mosquito reports from 2005–2010, with reports of Culiseta annulata (n=56) and Culex pipiens (n=42) being the most common with the majority of reports being from nuisance biting indoors. Mosquito surveys in the UK report evidence of insect biting, almost certainly due to mosquitoes, in 64% of houses. This is a minimum figure for mosquito nuisance in domestic premises in the UK.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-10-01

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