Front Page
June 2, 2006

Oh Rats!

There seems to be a growing rat infestation problem in the city of Kingstown. And if proper waste disposal methods are not observed, this country might soon see an outbreak of rat related diseases.

Although the local Vector Control Unit is making efforts to lessen the level of rat infestation, health workers are worried that the blatant disregard shown for proper waste disposal, by some owners of stores and restaurants, would only help to worsen the situation.{{more}}

Just how serious a problem are we facing? Every rat you see indicates there are close to 10 others living in that particular area, and while there are usually six rats living in one burrow, one female can produce a dozen young ones in just 22 days.

Reynold Hewitt, head of the Insect Vector Control Unit has confirmed that this situation is of serious concern.

Hewitt told Searchlight on Tuesday that despite measures being put in place to curb this problem, the Norway rats (a breed of common to St. Vincent) continue to colonize the drains, alleys and even buildings in Kingstown.

“If you stand near to the river at South River road for instance, any time after six at evenings, you would see at least 25 rats alone in that area,” the health worker confirmed.

Apart from that location, White Chapel Road, Melville Street and Middle Street also serve as breeding grounds for these rodents.

According to Hewitt, at some point the health ministry would have to enforce the public health laws to get businesses in Kingstown to dispose of their waste properly.

“They really need to take stock of the way they dispose their garbage. It is a case where we have a very serious problem with rats in Kingstown, one of the main reasons is that the restaurants are running their food particles out in the drains and are not dumping their garbage properly; apart from that, we have to face the problem with vacant lots, which these rodents use as a breeding grounds,” Hewitt told Searchlight.

The health worker pointed out that rats, because of their excellent adaptability skills, can be seen just about everywhere.

“It is easy for these rats to breed and set up colonies, we want the public to practice proper garbage disposal; rat proof your buildings and keep food particles out of the drainage system,” Hewitt urged.

Apart from the bustling city life, which serves as a haven for these rodents, other densely populated areas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are on the health ministry’s watch list.

Questelles, Barrouallie, Georgetown, Layou, Owia, Sharpes, Green Hill and Cane Garden have all been zoned as priority areas of concern.

Though health officials acknowledged that they are capable of dealing with an outbreak here, the increase in rodent colonies is still a great cause for great concern.