PEST controllers have been called out more than 200 times to schools in Conwy since 2015 – 66 of which involved rats or mice. Conwy County Council spent more than £67,000 ridding its schools, offices, and buildings of pests between 2017-2022.
Responding to a member of the public who submitted a freedom of information (FOI) request, the authority confirmed it received 223 call outs to schools over a seven-year period – 66 were rodent-related, 125 involved insects, and 32 to reports of seagulls or birds.
Pest control was called out on 102 occasions to the council’s corporate buildings and offices during the same period – and 35 times to its recreation and leisure buildings, such as leisure centres. The council called out pest control 18 times to its residential homes, family centres, and integrated offices; 21 times to public conveniences, cemeteries, and industrial sites; and 38 times to its libraries, youth and community centres, theatres, and outdoor centres.
There were 24 call-outs to its vacant properties and a spokesperson reassured residents that rat and mice attacks on staff and school children were not a problem: “We have no records of staff/pupils that have been bitten by a rat or a mouse.”
In December a rat infestation forced Eirias High School to close its doors for a deep clean, although this incident was not included in the FOI response. The rats were reported amid claims pupils spotted the creatures living in ‘papier-mâché volcanos’ and abandoned toilets at the Colwyn Bay school.
Rats are known to carry numerous harmful diseases, including the hantavirus, leptospirosis, rat bite fever, rat tapeworm, and salmonellosis. Weil’s disease is a form of leptospirosis contracted from the urine of infected rats.
The bacteria can enter the human body through cuts and scratches or through the mouth, eyes, and throat after contact with infected rat urine. Whilst Weil’s disease is rare in the UK, without treatment, the disease can lead to kidney damage, liver failure, meningitis, respiratory failure, and occasionally death.
Conwy spent £7,324.00 on pest control in 2017-18; £11,739.96 in 2018-19; £11,934.93 in 2019-20; £12,170.00 in 2020-21, but this figure shot up to £23,879.00 in 2021-22. A council spokeswoman added: “Since 2015 there have been 223 call outs to Conwy county schools for pest control issues. These were insect related (125), rodent related (66), and bird/seagull related (32). These figures exclude foundation schools: Ysgol Pen y Bryn, Ysgol Eirias, Ysgol Bryn Elian and Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan.”