Asthma Study Examines Benefits of IPM on Rodents

Asthmatic children suffering from persistent wheezing or difficulty in breathing are often treated in emergency rooms and then return home to the very environment that triggers their asthma attacks. Yet, with proper intervention, including pest control, the frequency of asthma attacks in some children and the need for costly trips to an emergency room can be reduced. A five-year study in the US is taking a close look at how Integrated Pest Management (IPM) intervention can help children with asthma.

Rodent-Control-Sydney-Rat-Control-Rodent-Control_041-300x236Dr Wanda Phipatanakul, a paediatric allergist and associate professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School said, “Lots of kids have problems because of their home environment. That’s because one of the most predominant urban indoor allergens that cause and trigger asthma is ‘Musm 1’, the allergen found in the hair, saliva, urine and faeces of mice or rodents. The sensitivity of mouse or rodent allergen makes children susceptible to developing or worsening asthma symptoms that can lead to hospitalisation. “We know from a pilot study that IPM intervention can reduce mouse or rodent allergen levels significantly, by a much as 75 to 80 per cent,” Dr Phipatanakul pointed out.




Her work on 2004 National Institute of Health study found that with IPM practices, allergen levels decreased in kitchens by 78.8 per cent and in bedrooms by 77.3 per cent.

“Reducing allergen levels significantly correlates with reduced complications of asthma, including fewer unscheduled asthma-related hospital visits,” she emphasised.


Rodent-Control-Sydney-Rat-Control-Rodent-Control_02-300x236The US study will examine whether IPM intervention is superior to IPM education alone in reducing mouse or rodent allergen levels, as well as asthma symptoms and the need for rescue medication in asthmatic children who are sensitised to the mouse or rodent allergen.

Over a five-year period researchers will track 350 families, with children aged 6-17 with moderate to severe asthma who are sensitised to mice or rodents and have a high mouse or rodent allergen level.

Over a five-year period researchers will track 350 families, with children aged 6-17 with moderate to severe asthma who are sensitised to mice or rodents and have a high mouse or rodent allergen level.

Families who commit to the study are placed in either the IPM group to receive immediate IPM intervention, or in the control or education group, which receives training and information, but no intervention until the study is completed.

Rodent-Control-Sydney-Rat-Control-Rodent-Control_01-300x236The study basically examines whether removing mice or rodents and their remnants from the home environment of kids with asthma will reduce allergens and that the kid’s health will improve.

Because bait is restricted by the protocol, control measure focus on exclusion, housekeeping practices, such a getting rid of rubbish, proper storage practices, and trapping, which is exactly the core of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Once technicians identify where mice or rodents are moving, they can use a tracking powder in holes, before sealing up holes and voids.


Glue traps and snap traps are used and due to concerns about peanut butter allergies were baited with Bell’s Provoke Professional Mouse Attractant. Provoke is a non-toxic, hypoallergenic attractant technicians use in schools, food production plants and other places where peanut butter is prohibited or not recommended.

Typically, technicians place six snap traps baited with Provoke in the kitchen and three each in other rooms, along with glue boards.

The study could demonstrate that IPM intervention is a promising, cost-effective way to help high-risk asthma patients and highlight the importance of mouse or rodent control in preventing asthma.

Thank you to Bell Laboratories magazine, for this article.

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