Rat SOS! Health officer in St Thomas urge citizens to take precaution Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Health officials in St Thomas are warning residents there to protect their homes from any possible rat invasion and take the necessary precautions to lower their risk of contracting leptospirosis.

This was after councillors at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation (STMC) raised concerns about rodents in public spaces in sections of the parish.

Medical Officer of Health for the parish, Dr D’Oyen Smith, said his team is moving to put forward a proposal to launch a special rodent control programme, which will be geared towards lowering any potential spread of leptospirosis in the parish.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection humans contract from animals, which can lead to possible fatal infection of the kidney, liver, brain, lung or heart. It can be spread through the urine of especially dogs, cat, rodents and other farm animals.

Smith said residents must also play their part in protecting their homes from an invasion of rodents, especially during the rainy season.

“You need to kill off the rats first of all, and for those that still exist, you need to ensure that you close the doors (of your houses) and holes in your roof and doors, etcetera,” he urged.

“We need to protect our houses and our children, because in the rainy season, the rats need somewhere to… live, eat or get water.

“So, when it rains, typically…, going into the hurricane season like now, the rats move from outdoors to indoors,” Smith indicated.

He implored the STMC to provide the additional support necessary to tackle the threat posed by the rat population in the public spaces in the parish.

“We need to get the rodents out, not by clearing the area. If you clear the area, the rodents migrate to somewhere else.

“So, we’re going to use rodenticides to kill the rodents where they are, (and) then we clean up,” Smith informed.

Meanwhile, the medical officer said leptospirosis can also be spread through common pets, because the rats can pass on their bacteria through their urine.

He elaborated that the rats, for example, will go to the dog bowls and urinate in them, and the dogs will end up contracting leptospirosis through that situation.

“Yes, the cats do drink out of dog bowls etcetera, but it’s typically the dogs who concentrate the bacteria in their urine and pass it on…, (while) the cats don’t tend to concentrate the bacteria as much as a dog would have,” Smith explained.

He also warned persons to throw any food item away as long as they suspect that a rat might have eaten a portion of it. The reason for this is because when a rat is eating, it urinate at the same time, Smith said.