No mechanism to control rat population in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: The incidents of rat-bite are occurring in Peshawar as there is no mechanism to control its population and the victims suffer due to non-availability of treatment at the hospitals, according to officials. They said that rats moved freely inside houses and neighbourhoods, especially in overpopulated dwellings. However, Dr Jehangir, the district health officer, said that only four cases of rat-bite were recorded in the past one month. “It is the responsibility of the municipal committees, which have got posts of rat-killers. The health department will provide treatment to the victims,” he said. Health workers in the government facilities said that rat-bite incidents had grown in the overcrowded localities. DHO says only four cases of rat-bite reported last month “Poor sanitation and drainage system, population increase and lack of cleanliness have led to hike in number of rates. They thrive on wasted food, scattered inside homes, and on heaps of garbage and uncovered pots in kitchens,” experts said. A few years ago, cats were natural hunter of rats but now they have stopped eating them because of availability of more delicious variety of food. “In the process, the rats have been domesticated like dogs and cats which roam freely in presence of people. Rats have grown in size and are much bigger,” said experts. They said that the rats, which used to eat from the heaps of dirt, crop-growing fields and canals, had found dustbins inside homes that led to increase in their number and exposure of people to bites. Contrary to a nationwide study according to which four people share a single room in the country, the number of the occupants of a room in Peshawar and elsewhere in the province is eight. A medical officer in one of the basic health units in Peshawar told Dawn that people were adopting homegrown methods to reduce rat population but there was resistance to the chemicals which were previously used successfully for killing of rats. He said that rat-bite caused severe bleeding and left scar on the affected part of the body. “There is severe bleeding and the victims require anti-rate serum and treatment,” said the medical officer. He said that the issue first came to limelight after death of a lady doctor in 2013, who was bitten by rat when she was performing duty at Woman and Children Hospital Abbottabad. “We also receive case of horse and donkey bites which aren’t alarming. The district health information system covers only dog bite cases,” said the medical officer. Experts said that apart from increasing population of rats and natural process of genetically modifications at the local level, dangerous rodents were also being imported through containers transporting foodstuff from abroad. “Many people may develop complications due to rat-bite owing to non-availability of treatment at the hospitals as the victims don’t get serum to safeguard them against plague, a dreaded disease caused by rats,” they said. A resident of the interior city said that his son was bitten by rat during nighttime. “People have stopped walking after evening and are scary of rats. It has become common like dog-bite,” he said. Health Minister Shahram Tarakai said that other departments were also involved in the issue, therefore, they wanted to devise a strategy to cope with rat-bite incidents. “It needs a joint approach to remove causes of rat-bite and ensure treatment to victims,” he added. Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2016

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