B6 - Reducing the negative effects of animals, insects and vermin

People’s health can be adversely affected by contact with animals, insects and vermin in the living environment. Vermin are pests or nuisance animals, especially those that threaten human society.

Dramatic examples include illnesses such as malaria, a mosquito borne illness that is a serious ongoing health risk in many parts of the world. The Great Plague of London, transmitted by fleas and rats, killed between 75,000 and 100,000 of the city’s rapidly expanding population of about 460,000.

A brief summary of health risks that may be caused by animals, insects and vermin from around Australia, include:

  • Camels, pigs, horses and donkeys may damage fences, housing and water taps and pipes, and contaminate the water supply
  • Dogs can carry and transmit bacteria and parasites, which may cause the following conditions in children and adults: skin infections, diarrhoeal disease such as Giardia, which is a common cause of chronic diarrhoea in young children and chronic gut parasite infection.
  • Some types of flies can spread eye infections
  • Mosquitoes can carry potentially life threatening viruses such as Japanese Encephalitis and Dengue Fever
  • Dust mites and cockroaches have been linked to the increased incidence of asthma
  • Contact with some caterpillars and beetles can cause serious skin irritation
  • Mice and rats, can spread disease by contaminating food and food preparation and eating surfaces and can also cause major faults in electrical cables in walls and ceiling spaces, which may lead to fires or electric shocks

It is useful to consult residents, local pest controllers and housing managers about the animals, vermin and insects that are commonly found in the local area and incorporate design strategies to minimise the negative impact on people.

This section will describe in more detail how yard fencing and access gates, verandah screening, screened doors and high shelves rather than low cupboards in kitchens, and careful consideration of any wall to floor junctions near the ground are just some of the strategies that can reduce the negative health impacts of the insects, vermin and animals on people.