Hunt on for Town rats

Ronald Chapman addressing attendees at the seminar on rodent control.

For three months, starting next month, officers of the Environmental Health Department and other stakeholders in the City will be making a concerted effort to rid the area of rodents.

And during this period, the department hoped to train 90 persons in rodent control.

Vector Control Specialist at the Environmental Health Department, Ronald Chapman, made these disclosures today, while making a presentation at a one-day seminar on Rodent Control in Bridgetown at the Barbados Workers’ Union Headquarters, Solidarity House, Harmony Hall, St. Michael.

The health official pointed out that the foundation of any good rodent control programme was the ability to starve the creatures by keeping surroundings clean. He pointed out that during the period 2002 to 2010 there were 145 cases of leptospirosis, with 16 deaths. Chapman further disclosed that at the conclusion of the seminar an evaluation would be carried out.

He suggested that the participants at the seminar must start looking at solutions, the need for prosecution and the threat posed by vagrants. Referring to the introduction of seat belt legislation, the vector control specialist suggested behavioural changes could be brought about as it related to illegal dumping if law enforcement personnel rigidly enforced legislation.

He noted that prior to the introduction of seat belt legislation, very few motorists used the safety device.

Chapman explained that the City of Bridgetown and the greater Bridgetown area occupied most of the parish of St. Michael, an area covering around 15 square miles, adding that within that are there were approximately 66 lots of overgrown vegetation, 120 illegal dump sites, 67 derelict vehicles and 40 derelict buildings.

He further noted that the area supported a population of 4,430 persons.

The health official noted that rats and mice in the human environment caused significant economic loss. He further stated that they consumed and contaminated vast quantities of both human and animal feed. Chapman said rodents destroyed

property by burrowing and gnawing through wall and wood. He further stated that according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, it was estimated that five to 20 per cent of fires of unknown origin on farms were caused by rats.

Chapman noted that while many Barbadians were aware of leptospirosis and its dangers, they were unaware of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a viral respiratory disease which is transmitted by rodents infected with the hanta virus and when particles from rodent saliva and urine are inhaled.

Chapman said $40,000 had been provided for the three month programme to buy rodenticide, set up educational programmes, pay overtime to staff, buy bait stations and training. (NC)

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