Authorities are on the alert for possible disease outbreaks
after an estimated 2 billion rats chomped their way through crops
in 22 counties around Dongting Lake in central China's Hunan Province.
Li Junhua, spokesman for the Hunan Center for Disease Control
and Prevention, said Wednesday work teams have been sent to three
cities on Dongting Lake -- Yueyang, Yiyang and Changde -- to help
prevent outbreaks of disease.
Li said there were no reports of disease caused by rats so
The Hunan health department on Wednesday ordered local
authorities to initiate a communication campaign.
More than 2.25 million rats -- about 90 tons of rodents -- have
been killed since June 21 in Yiyang, local authorities said.
Cao Zhiping, head of the Yiyang office of plant protection and
quarantine, said the dead rodents had been buried deep in the earth
after being sterilized with quicklime and hence would not cause
In Lujiao town, Yueyang, dead mice were burnt and buried in high
ground so that they could not be carried away by flood waters and
contaminate the environment.
The estimated 2 billion rats invaded 22 counties around Dongting
Lake after their homes on islands in the lake were flooded.
The rats burrowed through dikes and spread out into cropland,
devouring crops along their route.
Local authorities in Yiyang, Yuanjiang, Junshan and Huarong are
rushing to build walls and dig ditches to keep the rats away from
flood-control dikes and cropland.
Poison has also been widely used to kill the mice but has
already had side effects. In Binhu Village of Lujiao Town, about
one thousand cats died after eating rats killed by poison.
(Xinhua News Agency July 12, 2007)