Recently the campus has been suffering from an affliction of flies. The normal population of flies that UNMC has come to co-exist with has expanded rapidly, much to the dismay of the students and staff. The buzz of the flies are definitely not muscidae* to our ears. The problem is particularly bad in the Indoor cafeteria and the Core where daily battles are fought.
Says Dr Jiin Woei Lee, a staff at UNMC,
We once did a celebration indoors in the SA because it was hot. But we decided to brave the heat and moved outside because of the sheer amount of flies.
IGNITE asked Mr Nicholas Ching, Director of Campus Services about the problem. He replied us saying it is a seasonal problem that we deal with annually. Some of the students and staff surveyed also recall that this has happened before. Although the question about who was here first, the flies or the humans must be considered and therefore should we leave or should they leave?
According to Jane, a Pharmacy student,
There was a point during my foundation year (July 2015) when it was really horrible. The Core was full of them and the place where RK is currently. I talked to lecturers about it and they said it was seasonal as well.
A combination of the hot weather and the farming activities in Broga could be the issue. Some fertilisers and manure do attract flies and Mr Ching says UNMC is not the only one in the area whose fly population has increased.
Dr Svenja Hanson also theorised that it might be caused by the rubbish that’s dumped, while other theories in the past have included the chicken farm and inadequately stored/ disposed organic waste.
Students and staff have raised the problem up with him and he has replied them. The issue was also recently discussed during the recent Health and Safety meeting.
Flies are not just a matter of irritation, they also posit a hygiene issue. They transmit pathogens through their feet and body. They also vomit on your food and leave their poop on it. However this is of greater concern when they land on food out of sight and sit on it for extended periods of time i.e. the food that lies open in food stalls. If they make a single touch down, they are unlikely to transmit anything significant according to this article.
Steps have been taken to address this issue such as mopping the floors and tables regularly with Clorox. The glue boards in the UV units are now being changed on a weekly basis while the original contract was for once a month. The tableware stations are probably also attracting the flies although they are not the cause for increase. Therefore UV units have been located at each station and each stall also has one according to Mr Ching.
He says the fly population has decreased since.
What can students and staff do?
1. Keep the tables free of dirty plates, utensils and food containers. Clean up after ourselves.
2. Do not bring food and sweet drinks into the Core as that attracts the flies.
3. Fingers crossed the season passes soon.
*the scientific name of house flies in general
By Lhavanya DL
Featured image taken from Humans of UNMC Facebook page
Photos by Lhavanya DL, Dinesh Jayabalan, Svenja Hanson and Nicholas Ching in that order.