imgresAN INFESTATION of mice has closed the 99p Store in Ramsgate High Street.

Thanet council hit the shop with a hygiene emergency prohibition notice on Monday, meaning conditions in the building pose a direct health risk to the public.

Inspectors, who visited the store after a series of complaints from worried customers, deemed the shop had a serious mouse infestation and food stock was at imminent risk of contamination.

A spokesman for the council said: “Officers attended to investigate allegations from members of the public that mice had been seen.

“Thanet District Council immediately made enquiries with the company and their management.

“On Monday, March 3 the council’s environmental health officers served a hygiene emergency prohibition notice on the premises and this was closed after a decision was made that inadequate controls had taken place and there was an imminent risk to public health.”

A hygiene emergency prohibition notice orders the closure of a building until all health-code violations are removed.

The emergency prohibition notice only allows the council to close the store for a maximum of three days.

An application has been made to Margate magistrates for a hygiene emergency prohibition order, which will prevent the store from re-opening until the infestation is destroyed.

Wild mice pose a number of health risks to humans. Diseases including salmonella, Lyme disease and the potentially deadly Hantavirus can all be contracted either through the mice themselves or food contaminated by them.

The way in which mice feed means they are able to contaminate large quantities of food in a short space of time.

In November last year, council inspectors closed Thanet Quality Foods in Cliftonville for three weeks after evidence of mice was discovered on the premises.

99p Stores Ltd was founded in London by Nadir Lalani in 2001. Since then the chain has spread across the UK and currently owns more than 120 stores nationwide.

At time of going to press, 99p Stores Ltd had not responded to any questions from the Gazette about the infestation. The chain is also yet to confirm when it expects its Ramsgate branch to reopen.

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