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Emergency counter measures for rat removal
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An emergency counter measure for rat removal has been implemented in six disaster areas throughout Sichuan Province to prevent any outbreaks of bubonic plague. These areas include Mianyang, Deyang, Guangyuan, Aba, Chengdu and Ya'an.

The Sichuan disaster relief authorities released plans to prevent a potential outbreak of bubonic plague at the May 25 news conference. An emergency plan has been implemented throughout Sichuan disaster areas, especially in rural areas.

Under the coordination of health ministry, a number of units for rat removal have been set up, including 15 groups aimed at bubonic plague prevention, 180 professionals acting as plague monitoring and control experts and an additional team of 3,000 miscellaneous volunteers. Poison bait has been placed in 2,172 victims' living quarters, 735,000 houses and 1.049 million collapsed buildings that have cleaned up as of May 24.

The emergency counter plan was devised and implemented by the Ministry of Health. The plan requires disease control and prevention centers and professional bubonic plague prevention agencies to stand ready to go to any potential plague scene and prepare medicine and/or necessary equipment in advance. Quarantines will be set upon any outbreaks of bubonic plague, with the range defined by experts.

Bubonic plague is spread through two ways: via a fleabite from insects carrying the disease while living on rats, or via a bite from an already infected rat.

Professionals have explained that earthquakes can destroy the natural living environment and create a change in contact between human beings and infected animals and fleas. This alteration may result in a higher risk of an outbreak of bubonic plague.

According to Hou Xiongfei, director of the Information Office of the Sichuan Provincial Government, plague-monitoring reports indicate at present no abnormal increase of rats and no cases of bubonic plague.

(China.org.cn by Wu Huanshu, May 26, 2008)

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