Dubai: Officials received more than 29,000 pest control complaints from residents so far this year in Dubai, down 15 per cent for the same period in 2011.

Dubai Municipality said it received 29,465 notifications, including emergency calls, from January to September. Last year’s figure for the same period was 34,824.

Emergency cases involved snakes, scorpions, bees, wasps and spiders, said Hisham Abdul Rahman Al Yahya, head of the municipality’s pest control section. He added that emergency requests are implemented within 24 hours, while non-emergency cases are handled within three working days. The non-emergency cases involved mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, ants, bed bugs, rats and mice.

Al Yahya could not be reached yesterday afternoon for further comments. He said in a statement: “The decline of 15.4 per cent in the number of complaints received from the public compared to the same period in 2011 is a result of the efforts exerted by the pest control section for monitoring and evaluation of infection levels of certain pests in different areas of the emirate and rural areas. In addition, there are field control programmes by different teams working to control it.”

The pest control section also held various awareness programmes about the health risks of pests and how to avoid their spread. The section also distributed about 15,000 educational brochures and pamphlets.

Al Yahya urged the public to report any illegal pest control practices in the emirate by calling 800900. He also warned against the self-use of pesticides, requesting residents to only contact companies licensed by Dubai Municipality.

Unauthorised use of chemicals to kill or deter pests in homes has caused a number of deaths in the UAE over the years. Some of the victims were children. Al Mahi Al Tilib Gubran, a senior pest control studies officer at the municipality, said in a statement that the “actual health effect of pesticides on children depend on the active ingredients of the pesticides. Each active ingredient has different mode of action, but the majority of active ingredients affect the nervous system”.

The statement added: “Some people use pesticides that generate toxic gases which spread in the building through air-conditioning duct system… The public should not apply professional or concentrates pesticides at their homes; they should seek out Dubai Municipality-licensed companies. A monthly updated list of the companies can be obtained from the Dubai Municipality Call Centre – 800900 – or from Public Health Pest Control Section in Al Qouz [043474448].”

Gubran said “the best and safest pesticides to be used against various pests are those registered with the Ministry of Water and Environment and applied by Dubai Municipality-licensed companies.” He added that rodents are the most common and dangerous pests because of their threat to human health and property. Bed bugs also are common, found even in five-star hotels around the world, Gubran said.

According to the officer, public health pesticides are governed in the UAE by the Ministers Council decision No.27 for the year 2012.