August 7: Even as Americans compete with each other in the “rat-race” for a good life, the real rats are coming out of the sewage dumps and are literally dancing on the streets. Funny though it might sound, rats have become a menace in many US cities. So much so, that in New York City, a rodent task force has been appointed to tackle the problem.
News reports say that in recent times, more than ten thousand rats have been sighted in Chicago, Illinois. In Texas, a police officer was even seen chasing a rat through a house with a loaded pistol! But the rats seem to be a stronger force.
The cities witnessing large numbers of the furry rodents scurrying through them include Boston, Massachusetts, Chicago, New York city, and Los Angles. Health experts feel the problem is a result of a decision to reduce federal funding for rodent control, taken two decades ago. Even now, funds for tackling rodent menace gets a lower priority in city budgets.
However, city officials are looking for ways to deal with the gnawing problem. In Washington D.C., nearly 5,000 houses have been inspected and the residents have been provided with new rat-proof garbage cans. A Bureau of Community Hygeine has also been set up for working out long-term solutions.
Last November New York City held a Rat Summit, where pest-control experts met with city officials to come up with solutions. The possible solutions included new trash compactors, spreading awareness regarding trash containers among restaurant owners and more fines for owners who don’t follow the guidelines.
One city which could serve as a role model is Philadelphia. After placing rat control high on its priority list, the city’s complaints have reduced considerbly.
In order to involve more people in checking the growing rat invasions, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to award an amount of about $250,000 to two cities for coming up with a viable rodent-control model.
Through the centuries, rats have proved to be more than a nuisance to mankind. From carrying the deadly plague that resulted in the ‘Black Death’ in 14th-century Europe to being carried away by the mythical pied piper of Hamlin, they continue to infest our lives. In more menacing ways than one!