Sunday, August 02, 2009

Invasion of the rats

Hey pussy, here pussy ...

Oh fuck they ate the cat as well.

If South Africa’s city dwellers think they smell a rat, they probably do: the rodents are thriving in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and East London.

Migration to cities, a growing number of informal settlements, street vendors and poor waste management by municipalities, business and homeowners are among factors responsible for the population explosion of these dirty pest.

Now city authorities, who are responsible for maintaining hygiene, are having to fork out millions to kill the vermin.

But officials say they cannot keep urban centres clean by themselves and residents need to play their part. Pamela Mudley, the marketing manager of a leading pest control firm, said Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town were “in an advanced state of infestation”.

“The lack of proper hygiene standards in the major cities has been a contributory factor to the increased numbers of rodents,” she said.

Rats transmit a wide range of diseases including salmonellosis, typhus, rat bite fever and trichinosis. Dr Ivan Bromfield, executive director, Cape Town City Health, confirmed there was “a significant rodent population in the city”, made worse by the fact that refuse was collected only once a week in residential areas.

“In the last decade, the number of informal settlements has increased significantly with accompanying waste management challenges ,” said Bromfield.

The CBD, restaurants, informal settlements, harbour and transport hubs were worst infested.

The city is spending R500000 on poison alone to exterminate rats this year. Johannesburg city health department spokesman Nkosinathi Nkabinde said abandoned buildings in the inner city, extensive illegal dumping and dirty back yards had increased the rodent problem.

“The city of Johannesburg spends approximately R15-million annually ... on pesticides, health education, and paying the salaries of about 70 personnel,” said Nkabinde. (Being paid a salary does not necessarily equate to working, of course.)

The money was also used for the extermination of cockroaches, bees and mosquitoes.

11 Opinion(s):

Doberman said...

If there's one creature I cannot stand it's rats. I'll chase the odd poor field mouse that's ever wandered into my home for days like a man stalking a gazelle.

Can we say bubonic plague yet or is it too soon?

Dachshund said...

Depends on the kind of rat. Some rats are OK.

Plague rats have kidneys that need a lot of water to expel toxins from their bodies. So dirt and rain are a perfect combination.

I don't know how prevalent plague rats are in SA, though.

Let's ask our environmentalist. What do you think, Fish Eagle?

Dachshund said...

I see plague rats are very prevalent in the desert areas of Oz, and will come out and mug you as soon it starts raining.

Oy.

Doberman said...

Any rat is capable of transmitting disease. Bubonic plague (the black death) is a bacterial disease that spreads by infected fleas so really anywhere there is like you say, filth, the fleas can transmit to humans and they also kill the host rats and mice. How SA hasn't had an outbreak considering the number of squatter camps is a miracle. All in good time. It only takes one flea.

FishEagle said...

Apparently the last death caused by the bubonic plague was in 1981.

"In South Africa, bubonic plague-carrying rats were largely exterminated during the apartheid-era but one endemic pocket has always remained in Coega." Quoted from article written by Adriana Stuijt.

A little close to home for my comfort! Lol.

FishEagle said...

Refering to my previous comment - the last death in South Africa was in 1981.

Dachshund said...

@Dobe: That's right, rats that are not killed off by the disease transmit their infected blood to fleas.

@FE: As regards Adriana's comment: it depends on what part of South Africa didn't have bubonic plague during the apartheid days.

Most probably it didn't have such an effect when there were fewer people in the townships. But what with mass urban migration and all the Zims coming in, it's just a matter of time.

Also, Africans are usually not the most sanitary of people. You see this by the way domestic workers don't believe in hygiene in any area allocated to their private use even if soap and cleaning materials are made available.

Ranger Tom said...

Rats give me the creeps...

Anonymous said...

Mid-June we had the problem in Bloemfontein of no rubbish being collected. My place of work has rubbish collected twice a week for which we pay a considerable amount. When the rubbish had not been collected for 2 weeks I phoned the Municipality asking them what they would prefer - we deduct 50% of their account or they pay for the private contractor to remove the rubbish.
Oh no madam it doesn't work that way!! I think it is HIGH time that all us whities stood together and let them feel the pinch in the pocket!! otherwise we are going to get absolutely no where and the are going to carry on f*cking us around
Anonymrs

Exzanian said...

I'd be more worried about the African budgies...

Dachshund said...

@Anon 2:42 AM: You CAN go on a ratepayers strike, it's been successfully done before. You CAN use private contractors if the municipality can't or won't cooperate.

We did something similar here in the KZN when we had a spate of violent crime - the usual stuff, rape and murder - and the cops did absolutely stuff all. Whites AND blacks called a meeting and told the cops they would both withhold taxes and have them fired if they didn't do their jobs.

In addition, blacks rounded up the black criminals and knocked the crap out of them BEFORE handing them over to the police.

It's your money. Don't be intimidated by non-service. When push comes to shove they have more to lose than you.