Shoppers across the UK have been stockpiling food and other essentials during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pest experts have warned homes with large amounts of hoarded food are more likely to attract rodents and insects, including house flies and cockroaches.
John Hope, of the National Pest Technicians Association, is urging British households to be more vigilant when it comes to storing goods and warns about the dangers pests can pose for public health as people stockpile goods.
“Stockpiling will have an effect on public health because if you’re stockpiling goods, there’s more food there to attract rodents,” he said.
“It’s the same as when rubbish piles up on the street due to missed bin collections; the more that’s there, the more chance there is of attracting rodents without actually seeing them, because they can get in there unnoticed by time you get to bottom of the pile.
“Pests such as rodents, cockroaches and houseflies are known to carry bacteria and can pass this on to people.”
As the outbreak continues, temperatures rise, bin collections suspended and shoppers continue to buy larger quantities of perishable goods Mr Hope said “good housekeeping” is more vital than ever.
To counter the threat of infestations he advised homeowners in the UK move any rubbish to an outside bin as quickly as possible and make sure it is tightly sealed.
While Brits are using alternative storage options for bulk-bought items, Mr Hope warned about the dangers of storing food in outbuildings or garages as these will be at an increased risk of pest damage.
He added: “Inspect your home or office for cracks or holes in walls; unfilled voids around pipework etc and remember that mice can squeeze through gaps as small as 5mm. If you find any, fill or seal them as soon as possible.
“If possible, keep bushes and shrubbery away from the building to make the area less attractive to pests.
“Repair any leaking pipes, outside taps etc as standing water can attract many different types of pests, including rats and as the weather warms, mosquitoes.
“Clean work surfaces, dining tables and floors regularly as any food build up can attract pests. This is particularly important if pests are present to clean any bacterial residues left behind should they pass over them.”
Mr Hope said if a pest problem develops the best solution is to call a pest professional.
He advised anyone using rodenticides or insecticides to ensure that these are purchased from a reputable sources and are used safely and according to label conditions.
The retail industry has insisted there is enough food for everyone and ministers have repeatedly voiced that rationing is unnecessary.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said there was no shortage of food in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, with manufacturers having increased production by 50 per cent.
NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis said the country “should be ashamed” after key medical staff have been left unable to buy food at the end of their shifts during the periods of crazed panic-buying.
Supermarkets have now imposed strict rules to help everyone get the essential items that they need.
Some chains have created special shopping hours for elderly people, hired more staff to stock shelves and have limited the number of items each person can buy.
Alongside special hours for elderly and vulnerable shoppers, supermarket chains have started to introduce similar “golden hours” for NHS staff, upon presenting their NHS ID.
Read our article here to find out more about shopping restrictions.