New breed of poison-resistant rats pose ‘threat to humans’ - health expert issues ‘super rodents’ warning

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Concerns grow over surge in rats and mice in the UK becoming resistant to poison used for pest control

Experts have said a new breed of ‘super rodents’ could be a danger to people’s health. This comes after The Mirror spoke to experts about the issue of mice and rats in the UK, following a study surrounding their evolution and new resistance to poison.

The study states that over the past 20 years, almost all the mice and rats in the UK have evolved to become resistant to the common type of poison used whenever there is an infestation.

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The Mirror reported that around 78% of rats and 95% of house mice now have genes that mean they can tolerate poisons known as anticoagulant rodenticides. These normally kill them by preventing blood clotting.

Pest expert Dr Alan Buckle told The Mirror the development may be a “threat to human and animal health”. He said: “Continued use of anticoagulant rodenticides against resistant rats or mice has serious downsides. These include incomplete control of the rodents, which leads to threats to human and animal health, a faster spread of surviving resistant rodents and long-term survival of resistant pests that carry poison residues that could then be eaten by predators.”

The issue has been addressed by the British Pest Control Association who highlighted the importance of expert pest control after a report revealed a new generation of rats carrying a genetic mutation makes them resistant to conventional poison.

According to the PBCA the report, commissioned by the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU), has identified "the massive extent of L120Q resistance across the whole of central southern England".

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Dee Ward-Thompson, BPCA Technical Manager, said: “The study highlights the fact that resistance is growing in rat species across a swathe of the country. It also reports that rats without the genetic mutation are being killed off by poison, so the resistant species are taking their place, leaving a growing population of resistant pure-breds.

Thompson added: “With their numbers expanding there could be a significant risk to public health if their population is left unchecked, in both urban and rural environments.”

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Thompson spoke on what the studies means for dealing with rodents in the future saying: “The clear message is that, to be effective in tackling this issue, people should not attempt to self-treat rats.

“Professional use only of rodenticides are often more successful, but most are subject to strict legislation, so it has become more important than ever before to make sure infestations are treated by experts. Rats must be dealt with by those with the skills required to understand rodent behaviour and their habitat, and who know how to treat any particular strain.” She added.

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