Role of PMPs as Public Health Protectors Discussed at Purdue Conference

Role of PMPs as Public Health Protectors Discussed at Purdue Conference

Special focus was on the role PMPs play in the protection of public health — an important issue now and in future years.

January 9, 2018
Brad Harbison

(Pictured: Bobby Corrigan speaking at the 2018 Purdue Pest Management Conference)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The annual Purdue Pest Management Conference has always sought to provide attendees with progressive ideas they can use to help move the industry forward. At the 2018 event, being held this week at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., special focus has been on the role PMPs play in the protection of public health — an important issue now and in future years.

Atlantic Paste & Glue's Dr. Stanton Cope reviewed vector-borne diseases that have expanded their range in the U.S., as well as others that have the potential to spread. Every year, about 30,000 Lyme disease cases are reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although Cope thinks the number of cases are under-reported. For example, Cope said, there are adults who develop arthritis later in life as a result of Lyme disease being undiagnosed.

While Lyme disease, West Nile virus and Zika virus continue to grab headlines, Cope said PMPs should keep an eye out for Heartland virus (which can be transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and sand flies). As of July 2017, 30 cases were reported primarily in the Midwest and South (after it was first reported in Missouri). And Cope said the next public health disease PMPs should have on their radar is mosquito-borne Mayaro virus. Of particular concern is the fact Mayaro virus is spread by Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito species that spreads Zika and chikungunya virus, among others. Primarily found in South America, Mayaro was reported in Haiti in 2015. 

Cope said it is important for PMPs to be aware of vector-borne diseases because it's possible that (1) some of these vectors can be found in their customers’ back yards; (2) they can be deadly; and (3) they often go unreported or are misdiagnosed by medical professionals (often because patients fail to give their medical providers the necessary information). Increased international travel is another reason PMPs should be aware of emerging vector-borne diseases, Cope added.

Public health also was an important theme in consultant Dr. Bobby Corrigan’s presentation, a “state of the rodent market” overview. It’s an exciting time for those involved in rodent work, said Corrigan, thanks to the introduction of new products and technology the past two years. Corrigan examined some of this new technology in his presentation, including: (1) dry ice for rat control; (2) electronic monitoring, which Corrigan called a “game changer"; (3) the new rodenticide bait Solentra, featuring the active ingredient cholecalciferol, which Corrigan said offers “excellent palatability”; and (4) the use of video for monitoring, such as game cameras.

In 2017, EPA's Registration Division registered Bell Laboratories' dry ice product for control of burrowing rats, Rat Ice. When properly placed by PMPs in rodent burrows, dry ice asphyxiates rodents. Corrigan, who spends significant time controlling rodents in New York City, likes that dry ice is non-toxic to humans and pets, and poses no secondary threats to non-target animals. Dry ice also can help protect public health since it also kills ectoparasites associated with rodents (e.g., fleas, lice, mites and ticks).

Several industry manufacturers have introduced electronic monitoring technology. Again, the public health benefits of this technology appeal to Corrigan. For example, by responding quickly to a notification, PMPs can clear dead rodents out of bait stations immediately, thus reducing the chances of ectoparasite threats. Another benefit for PMPs can be time-savings, Corrigan said; bait stations with electronic monitoring can be placed in difficult-to-access areas (places that can take significant time to inspect in person).

Corrigan reminded PMPs that monitoring is an essential part of any Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program; In addition to the use of electronic monitoring technology, game cameras are another great way for PMPs to satisfy this important IPM requirement.

In addition to presentations from Cope and Corrigan, the first day of the Purdue conference included “New Technologies: Products & Equipment,” which was presented by Rentokil's Gene White and Action Pest Control's Scott Robbins.

Attendees also had an opportunity to check out some of the latest products and technology from leading industry suppliers in the exhibit hall. PCT will have additional coverage online and in the pages of PCT magazine.