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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rat menace in city hospitals and the recent drive by Corporation

The love for Jerry the mouse – the fictional animated character created by William Hanna does not need any elaboration.  But their real life cousins rats are never popular… the medium-sized, long-tailed rodents are considered a menace not only for the crops but also for humans.  They destroy crops thereby denying quality food and are feared to carry diseases. 

There is news of an Indian takeaway restaurant in Sydney slapped with a fine of over $99,512 after health authorities found cockroaches, accumulated grime and dead rats in its kitchen area. Reports state that the  former owners of the King Cross-based restaurant, RR Associates, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of failing to comply with the Food Standards Code between December 7 and December 21 in 2011. They were fined $99,512, according to ABC news report.  The report said that when health inspectors went to the restaurant after a customer complaint they found rat droppings in the service area and cupboards, a dead rat behind a bin and evidence of rat nests.  The restaurant has changed owners since the time of the offences.  In sentencing, magistrate Gail Madgwick said she was imposing fines of $7,692 for each of the 13 offences.

Back home, there was a very tragic incident of a 11 day old girl who was  born prematurely, died,  left unsupervised in Kasturba Gandhi hospital, and the corpse had been partially eaten by rodents.  Sadly it had left in a corner of the hospital’s intensive care unit overnight as the morgue reportedly was for adults only.  Relatives of the girl child gheraoed the maternity ward – the Govt later ordered an inquiry and now there reportedly has been action in cleaning the environs of many Govt hospitals in the city.  The overgrown campus and dilapidated buildings of the 127-year-old maternity hospital present a bad sight and is seemingly breeding ground for rodents, flies and mosquitoes.

The Chennai Corporation launched a drive to tackle the rat menace in the city. The drive was held by Corporation staff between August 29 and September 2, with a special focus on government hospitals  in the Corporation limits.  The local body has claimed it has killed a total of 2,248 rats in the week-long drive. Around 1,200 of the Corporation’s malaria workers, who also take care of rat control responsibilities placed over 26,000 traps with rat poison. Corporation has reportedly engaged 800 workers on 3 month contract for malaria control. The Chennai Corporation is also in the process on training 45 pest control workers from the nine other Municipal Corporations of Tamil Nadu. 

One report states that the training revealed the intelligence of rats – at Marina, where there are many pits dug by rats – the rats inside did not get enticed by tomato but get lured by ‘dried fish’ [karuvadu].  Somehow the workers at Marina on the rat drive presented ‘an ungainly’ sight as they were not wearing gloves and had no tools – but were using sticks of trees and other things readily available to get the rats out of their holes. 

One would jump to say that things are never clean and hygienic in India……. Read this report of how  transplant patients died in rat-infested hospital in UK.  Daily Mail and The Sun report of a damning investigation revealing the wrong operations by 'ineffective' surgeons working in shambolic conditions of 'unimaginable squalor' with rats and cockroaches seen on wards and animal droppings found in corridors. Eight of 11 patients who had heart transplants over a ten-month period at St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London, died within 90 days.  At least one of the 11 died from MRSA infection - a superbug infection resistant to most antibiotics --which is a known problem at St George's.  The health and safety standards in the hospital was shambolic.  A vulnerable patient was savaged by a rat as he lay sedated in his hospital bed, his parents have claimed.  The rodent bit terrified Jason Ketley more than a dozen times on his back and neck, leaving him with painful and bloody injuries.  His ordeal only ended when staff spotted the 42-year-old stumbling around a corridor with the rat hanging from his neck by its teeth. Nurses knocked the creature off and killed it. Hospital bosses claimed it was a field mouse.  This occurred at a specialist care unit in Surrey

In a farm in Tamilnadu, heard that the coconuts were regularly nibbled by rats – I was really surprised; had seen rats nibbling at maize, corn and other crops by scaling on them but rat climbing such tall trees seemed odd – but it is common, is what I heard later.  Read that in some countries they place metal bands around the tree barks – the bands keeps the rats' claws from sinking into the bark and hinders their ability to climb.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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