Building demolition halted due to rat infestation

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By Nick Seebruch
Building demolition halted due to rat infestation
Three rats. Photo from Flickr.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Over the course of one week, Seaway News has received six reports of serious rat infestations across the City of Cornwall.

One caller sent in an image of nearly 20 dead rats he had helped dispose of at a residence near the Snetsinger Park area. The caller explained that 25 to 30 rats had been caught at that residence in the previous few days.

Another reader said that they live in the area of Pitt and Thirteenth streets and that on the morning of April 8 they had already caught 17 rats.

On Monday, April 7, CPS responded to a residence on Augustus St. to enforce a stop work order issued by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). The EOHU had issued a stop work order which required the owner of the property to delay the demolition of the residence until an infestation of rats was dealt with.

“A lot of neighbours were complaining that there were rats running around. It was rat infested,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the EOHU. “The plan was to demolish it, but the concern was that if it was demolished, the rats would just run loose and go to infest other areas. The house was uninhabitable.”

“We did not want this to be demolished, so I issued an order to prevent them from demolishing it before getting an exterminator to ensure that they exterminated as much as possible the rats and that it was a safe demolition,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “We got tremendous cooperation from the City of Cornwall and the Cornwall Police as well.”

The City of Cornwall By-Law office gave the following advice to home owners and tenants who are dealing with rat issues:

“If resident is a home owner seeking to eliminate large amounts of rats from their home they are advised to contact a reputable pest control agent to help them resolve their issue in a safe and humane manner,” reads a statement from the City of Cornwall By-Law office.

“If resident is a tenant, they are advised to speak with landlord to address the situation.  If this fails to resolve their issue, they can contact Bylaw Services to file a complaint under Section 4.15 of the Property Standards By-Law.  Under this By-Law, property owners are required to keep their dwellings free from rodents, and also must ensure that conditions do not exist that may attract rodents, such as food scraps, litter, and general uncleanliness,” the statement from the By-Law office goes on to read.

The City of Cornwall By-Law office offers the following tips to deter rat infestations and what to do if an infestation occurs:

Eliminate sources of food

  • don’t leave garbage cans outside overnight
  • secure garbage lids, clean up spilled garbage and don’t leave garbage around a campsite or cottage
  • use a bungee cord or strap to keep the lid tight on your compost and garbage cans
  • empty the grease trap from barbecues
  • remove ripened fruit from trees and pick up vegetables and fallen fruit
  • protect bird feeders from small animals and clean up spilled food around the area
  • feed pets indoors

Keep animals out of building and yards

  • seal ground-level holes or cracks, warped siding or other entry points but be careful not to seal animals inside
  • don’t leave the garage door open and fix poorly fitting doors

Mice and rats

  • set traps indoors.
  • use spring traps baited with rolled oats, peanut butter, bread, cheese, chocolate or lightly cooked bacon

To avoid coming into contact with diseases potentially spread by rodents (such as hantavirus), you should:

  • douse dead rodents, used traps and nests with household disinfectant (dilute household bleach by mixing 15 millilitres of bleach in one litre of water)
  • always use rubber or plastic gloves when handling dead rodents and other materials
    • put them inside a plastic bag
    • seal the bag, then put it in a sealed garbage can or bury it
  • rinse gloves in disinfectant or diluted bleach before you remove them.
  • wash gloves and hands in hot soapy water
  • always wear rubber gloves when cleaning up signs of mice
  • open windows and doors for a half hour before and after cleaning
  • wet floors to minimize dust
    • damp-mop and wash floors with soap, water and disinfectant
    • do not vacuum or sweep bare floors before mopping
  • wear a breathing mask if the area is poorly ventilated
  • wash countertops, drawers and cupboards with disinfectant
    • wash any clothing or bedding contaminated with droppings
    • dry them in the sun or in a hot dryer
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