A pest control company has been called to St Jamess Hospital more than 130 times over the last three years to pick up dead rats, rodent droppings and dead pigeons, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show.
The data obtained by the Irish Mail on Sunday shows that the number of call-outs per month has increased, with construction under way next door at the 1.7bn National Childrens Hospital.
The hospital, which is being built on a 12-acre site on the St Jamess campus, has been mired in controversy over spiralling costs.
Excavation at the large site has been under way since 2017 and construction is progressing steadily having started earlier this year.
But apart from rising costs, which are likely to surpass 2bn, it is also having an impact on its nearest neighbours. Dead birds and dead rodents have all been collected from the hospital over the past three years, the documentation shows.
Rat droppings were found in the hospital on several occasions and rat traps have been laid consistently over the past three years. Suspected rodent sightings, dead rodents, laying rat traps and follow-ups to see if any rats had been caught were the subject of 52 callouts, or 40% of the pest companys work overall, while calls about ants represented 27% of its workload. A cat was reportedly seen in the hospital on another occasion and, while a cage was laid, no cat was caught.
In August 2018, giant ants were reported and a partial insecticide treatment was carried out in a hallway. The patient room was not treated as a patient has low immune system, state the hospital notes.
In 2017 there were 30 call-outs, another 49 call-outs last year, and up to October this year, a pest control company was called a further 45 times.
This year, the most calls recorded were in July, August and September, with a higher number of calls in those months than for any month in 2017 or 2018. Insecticide was sprayed in the hospital on multiple occasions for wasps, ants, woodlice and fruit flies.
Pests of all descriptions have been a recurring problem at St Jamess hospital for a number of years. In 2015 and 2016, a pest control company was called some 100 times over both years, after activity was reported in areas including a dialysis room, an endoscopy theatre and on bedside tables in hospital wards. Over this period, some 35,000 was spent on call-outs.
However, the hospital has refused to release the costs for the past three years to the MoS, saying this information is commercially sensitive.
Experts told the MoS that it is common for rat infestations, in particular, to rise in winter months and that both site excavations and the construction stages can both attract rats to an area.
Richard Faulkner, advanced technical field consultant for Rentokil, told the MoS: Rat infestations are typically more common at this time of year. During autumn and winter, the rodent population begins to move indoors to escape the cold weather, so this is usually when Rentokil experiences its highest level of call-outs.
Rats can be a serious issue for home and business owners, as they can spread disease, damage property and contaminate food. They can also introduce disease, carrying parasites like fleas, lice and ticks into a premises. Mr Faulkner continued: Construction works can also frequently disturb rats that may already be present in that location.
The demolition of existing old buildings can displace the rat and mouse populations and if the rodents have nowhere else to go, they can try to find shelter in nearby residential or commercial buildings.
As the construction sites themselves become more developed, they can become an ideal habitat for the rodents.
Another issue on sites can be the opportunities packaging and stored materials offer rodents. Rats burrow and make their nests under shelter such as timber stacks, piles of rubbish and untended vegetation.
The increase in construction workers and other tradesman on site bringing food with them and creating litter will make the area even more attractive to rats.
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