HAMPSHIRE householders are being urged to "be vigilant" to pest infestation during the coronavirus crisis.

National trade body, the British Pest Control Association (BPSA) is advising people to carefully manage their household rubbish to stop rats from taking hold.

The trade body has outlined some basic precautions to help residents take control of their situation and prevent an infestation.

Residents have been urged to keep bin lids properly sealed and keep all food waste in a container and wrapped up bin bag, plastic bag or refuse sack, before placing it in a wheelie bin to help contain odours to keep the pests away.

Where possible, it is also advised that bins should be kept away from windows and doors and out of direct sunlight to reduce smells and decrease the rate of decomposition.

Dee Ward-Thompson, BPCA Technical Manager, believes the "last thing this country needs" is a rat problem alongside the global coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “Householders should be mindful of what can happen by failing to take simple preventative measures.

“Pests like rats, flies and urban foxes feed on the leftovers in our bins. Rats in particular carry many diseases which can be easily spread to humans through their urine, including Toxoplasmosis and Weil’s Disease.

“The last thing the country needs right now is a plague of rats alongside the pandemic. Rats and mice can reproduce incredibly quickly given access to a plentiful supply of food, such as food waste.

“If environmental conditions are preferable, a female rat can reproduce every six weeks with lit-ters consisting of 6-8 offspring. The professional pest management sector is still working hard to protect homes and key sec-tors during this pandemic."