Rodents & Pests
Rats, mice, mosquitoes, ticks and fleas can all carry serious diseases. Other pests, such as cockroaches and bed bugs, can be serious nuisances.
The Snohomish Health District provides information on the control of rats and insects, known as “vectors.”
Please note that the Health District does not have a pest control program and does not take pest complaints.
Getting Rid of Rats & Mice
Rats and mice are attracted by trash piles, open garbage cans, pet food and pet manure (poop). Quick fixes like traps and poison may help, but long-term changes throughout your neighborhood are best:
- Eliminate food sources such as compost piles or outside pet food. Bird feeders should be on poles and seed in trays that rats can't reach. If a squirrel can reach the bird feeder, so can a rat.
- Keep garbage can lids closed tightly.
- Pick up fruits and vegetables in your yard.
- Remove shelter such as wood piles, bushes, vines, tall grasses, rockeries, old furniture, appliances, and junk.
- Rat-proof your basement and sheds by sealing holes or other openings.
- Kill rats when necessary to reduce the population.
For specific tips on getting rid of unwanted rodents, see these resources:
The deer mouse is the main carrier of hantavirus in the western United States. Deer mice are most common in rural settings but live in all parts of Washington. A person may be exposed to hantavirus by breathing contaminated dust after disturbing or cleaning rodent droppings or nests, or by living or working in rodent-infested settings.
Typically, one to five cases of hantavirus are reported each year in Washington state. Hospital care is usually required and this rare disease can be fatal.
The best way to avoid exposure to hantavirus is to carefully clean up rodent droppings, prevent rodent infestations, and avoid wild rodents.
Please note that Snohomish Health District does not identify or test insects.
Hotel, Motel, Etc.
If you would like to file a formal complaint against a facility because of a bedbug problem, please visit the Washington State Department of Health “Healthcare Agencies and Facilities Complaint Process” web page and fill out a complaint form.
If you have a bed bug issue in a rental home or apartment it must be addressed through Washington State's Landlord-Tenant law and procedures.
The Volunteers of America Dispute Resolution Center may be able to help you work with your landlord.
what are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on your blood, typically at night while you are sleeping. Unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease.
However, some people are more sensitive to the bites and develop itchy, red welts. Scratching the bites can lead to infection. Bed bugs may also affect a person's mental health, causing anxiety, insomnia and irritability.
How do I prevent bed bugs from entering my home?
People often bring bed bugs into their homes via infested luggage, furniture, bedding, or clothing. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on items purchased second-hand, or from furniture and bedding that is delivered to your home. Bed bugs may also travel between apartments through small crevices, cracks, and ventilation ducts in walls and floors.
Helpful tips for keeping bed bugs out of your home:
- Regularly clean your house, including vacuuming your mattress.
- Clean up clutter to help reduce the number of places bed bugs can hide.
- Wash clothing and inspect luggage immediately after returning from a trip.
- Inspect used furniture for bed bugs before bringing it into your home.
- Never bring discarded bed frames, mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture into your home.
Bed bug infestations can be difficult to control, but don't resort to improperly using pesticides such as foggers or “bug bombs.” Serious health risks can occur. Contact a pest control company for help.
MOSQUITOES & WEST NILE VIRUS
West Nile virus is rare in Washington State, with only 1 reported human case in 2013. The virus is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus were found in six counties last year (Benton, Franklin, Grant, Skagit, Yakima, and Spokane).
Birds in the crow family are susceptible to West Nile virus and can provide an early warning of virus activity. The state Department of Health asks people to report dead birds using its online dead bird reporting system. Crows, ravens, jays, magpies, and hawks are particularly important to report because they often die from West Nile virus infection.
Snohomish Health District collected hundreds of birds and mosquito samples between 2002 and 2007. Only one virus-positive bird was found in 2002, and two birds with West Nile were found in 2006. The local surveillance program was discontinued in 2008.
The Snohomish Health District does not track or collect dead birds.
Cockroaches are less common in Washington than in crowded cities and the southern regions of the United States. However, where cockroaches are present, their droppings and leftovers can be a significant trigger for asthma in humans. Make sure that you kill cockroaches safely so that humans and animals aren't hurt.
Pest control is an important part of routine Food Safety inspections by Snohomish Health District. The health inspectors work with food establishment operators to implement pest control maintenance plans.