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Connecting Pest Control to Public Health

During the first full week of April each year, APHA (American Public Health Association) brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.

In 2017, the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) collaborated with a third-party market research firm to conduct generational pest control research, which discovered that while consumers do not immediately associate pest control with protecting public health when asked unaided, they quickly make the connection when prompted. As human cases of vector-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease have increased and spread, so has public awareness of pest dangers and the need for professional pest control. Ticks and mosquitoes, for example, are no longer just a nuisance at backyard barbecues; they are dangerous vectors capable of transmitting sometimes chronic and fatal diseases.

This presents an excellent opportunity for the pest control industry to more fully integrate pest control into the public health conversation. Great strides have been made thus far, as evidenced by a national pest control usage and attitudes survey commissioned by PPMA in 2016, which found that 78 percent of Americans believe pest control professionals protect public health, but there is still more work to be done.

Pest control companies have a unique opportunity, as well as an inherent responsibility, to raise public awareness about the threats posed by pests and the industry's role as public health protectors. Face-to-face interactions with customers are a regular part of the job, and they provide companies with the ideal setting for educating homeowners and promoting the industry as essential to public health. Furthermore, when it comes to pests and the diseases they spread, pest management professionals should serve as experts and trusted resources for consumers who are interested. These are the messages the public needs to hear, whether you're engaging in more traditional marketing or daily on-the-job customer interactions:

• We are public health protectors and experts in our field: The World Health Organization attributes the improved quality of life we have today to three factors: better health care, better medicine, and better pest control. We must position ourselves and our capabilities as critical to protecting the public from pests and the diseases they are known to transmit. Consumers must understand that DIY efforts around the house or a few sprays of bug repellent are insufficient to protect themselves, their families, and their property. Working with a professional like All Pest Solutions is essential for dealing with a pest problem and ensuring your safety.

• We are an expert on pest biology and behavior: People need to understand what we are protecting them from, in order for them to make an easier cognitive connection between pest control and public health. A mosquito bite may itch, and a bee sting may swell, but people should learn more about pests like ticks, rodents, and cockroaches, which can spread bacteria and disease. According to PPMA's generational consumer research, public health concerns about pests differed by generation. Although mosquitoes were viewed as a public health threat by all age groups, Millennials and Gen Xers were also concerned about ticks, while Baby Boomers were more concerned about rodents. We educate different audiences on the pests and public health issues that are most important to them.

• We are educators and experts: When people have questions or concerns about a pest problem in their home, we are their trusted partner and a reliable source of information. On-site visits and inspections are ideal opportunities for us to educate homeowners and share insights, establishing All Pest Solutions as a trustworthy and reliable source by providing information and resolving their concerns. Consumers are frequently bombarded with stories that incite hysteria or fear, and our knowledge and advice can provide them with peace of mind.

We want to help bring pest control to the forefront of public health concerns. Human cases of the vector-borne disease are increasing, and there is always work to be done in terms of sharing information and raising public awareness. Pest control is perceived as important to public health, which benefits everyone, we want to educate you about the dangers posed by pests to help you understand the need for professional pest control services.

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