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Shanghai drive to rid city of rodents
By Qian Yanfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-31 10:42

SHANGHAI: White-collar workers in the city should think twice if they want to bring food to work. It would also bring in little companions likely to destroy their appetite - the rats.

A recent survey by Shanghai municipal center for disease control and prevention has shown that office buildings have become a new haven for rats.

The reason, aside from the allure of foods, is because of the intricate structure of office buildings, with numerous pipes and inter-layers within the structure serving as an ideal habitat for the rats, said Xu Renquan, an expert from the center. "There are also management problems. Office buildings are usually leased to different tenants. So it's difficult to coordinate their efforts to kill the rats," Xu said.

A bank staff surnamed Huang, who works at an office building at the city's Huaihai Road, said she had seen rat poison lying along the stairs of her workplace although she is yet to see a rodent there.

"But I wouldn't be surprised if I saw one," She said.

According to the survey, about 400 units were found to have been frequented by rats among the 1,000 sampled, an increase of 1.5 percent over last fall. Wet markets, restaurants and supermarkets are the rats' favorite haunts. Food processing and sales firms, hospitals and schools are increasingly exposed to rats, it said.

Such a high density of rats, especially in the food sector, is a "threat to people's health" as rats may spread infectious diseases, Xu noted, adding that rats also nibble at equipment and cause cables to snap in the office buildings.

"We would therefore put in more effort towards mobilizing those concerned about destroying rats, in order to ensure food safety and a healthy living environment," Xu said.

Meanwhile, from March 20 the municipal sanitation committee has launched a citywide one-month campaign to kill rats, six months after the previous one, launched last fall.

A statement from the committee said spring and autumn being the breeding season of rats, now was the best time to destroy them.

It said the campaign would target key areas both in and outside the Expo Park, in a bid to prevent rat-induced infectious diseases and ensure a healthy environment for the forthcoming World Expo.

The committee would also "punish" owners of properties where a high concentration of rats is found.