The growing number of rodents in Prague is to be curbed by pest-controllers hired by the city council in about one month's time - that news has come coinciding with a number of reports showing that rodents including sewer-rats, have begun spilling onto certain streets in some areas of Prague, even in broad daylight. Besides causing shock for some, rats represent a serious threat in the spread of diseases, which can be life-threatening.
Most experts do not see the number of rats in Prague as alarming but with some estimates showing that rats in the capital have been numbering anywhere from several hundred thousand to up to a million, it is clear that steps must once again be taken. Some areas, like Prague's busy Jindrisska Street or the Barrandov housing district, for example, have seen a growing number of rats emerge in broad daylight, not the least bit afraid of pedestrians. That situation led me to ask Jaroslava Zelenkova, a specialist from Prague's Hygiene Authority, whether the number of rodents in areas like Jindrisska Street was surpassing acceptable levels.
"It's quite simple to deduce: if you encounter a rodent in the street during the day then it is a clear signal the number of rodents in the area has excessively multiplied. Prague is still relatively well-off thanks to regular pest control programmes since the late 80's, but I can confirm, for example, that the park in Jindrisska Street and the Barrandov area have been especially targeted this year. Barrandov suffered an increase in rodents thanks to the engineering network along the new tram line. Sewer-rats and other rodents were able to get to the surface even though it is a requirement for construction companies to conduct their own periodical pest control during building projects."
The city is now set to move against the pests in about one month's time. Until then it might be prudent to be at least a little bit vigilant while taking a break in some of the city's smaller concrete-surrounded parks, given that rats are carriers of enough serious, even potentially fatal diseases to make anyone think twice: illnesses like leptospirosis and salmonella and other diseases from bites. Then there's the fact of course that rats are carriers for parasites like ticks who can themselves pass on Lyme disease or viral Encephalitis. Not surprisingly it remains a priority to keep rodent levels down. Jaroslava Zelenkova again:
"For us it's important to keep the numbers to a minimum. We can't wipe out all the rats - that wouldn't even be a good idea. Nevertheless lowering them to one or two percent of current common occurrence would be ideal."
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