While bed bugs have been invading colleges across the country, other pests have been making their way into high schools and middle schools. Unwelcome critters have been sneaking into these educational institutions, tempted by the food in cafeterias where students eat lunch on a daily basis.
A Chicago high school recently revealed that several of its students were sickened and hospitalized after eating hot lunches prepared in the school cafeteria. It was discovered that the lunches were contaminated with mouse or rat droppings, a source of serious concern to students, parents and administrators.
"When the problem was brought to our attention, we took immediate steps to close the kitchen and provide the students with cold lunches," a Chicago Public Schools spokesperson said. "At the close of school tomorrow, pest control will be onsite at the facility to alleviate any remaining issues."
Chicago isn't the only city dealing with pest infestations in its public schools. Several schools in Lawrence, Kansas, are under fire due to recent citations that indicate the district's pest control policies aren't being followed. The Kansas Department of Agriculture discovered mouse droppings and roaches in two different area schools. Even though the district is working to eliminate the problem, having pests near food prep areas can be a serious health hazard, and students who eat cafeteria-prepared food risk ingesting a contaminated dish and falling ill.
Keeping pests out of food-filled areas
Unwelcome critters such as rodents and roaches are drawn to areas where they can easily access food, making kitchens a hotspot for potential infestations. Preventing an invasion is key – pests can be difficult and stressful to eliminate, but it's not hard to take basic precautions to keep them from entering a home.
Homeowners who leave food out in the kitchen are putting themselves at risk for a rodent or insect infestation. Leftover food should be thrown away or immediately stored in airtight containers so it doesn't attract critters searching for their next meal. Dry goods in pantries shouldn't be left open or kept in ripped packaging. Airtight containers are the best way to keep unwanted pests away from food sources and prevent contamination.
Residents who fear an infestation in their kitchen should keep an eye out for warning signs such as gnawed boxes, nests, pest droppings or urine stains. If evidence of pests is discovered, homeowners should immediately contact an exterminator to handle the situation.