There are 9 CRORE rats in Mumbai city!!!

Mumbai has an average of five to six rats for every human being, according to preliminary information from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) teams involved in a new rodent-elimination operation.

This translates into nearly 9 crore rats for the city spread across just 400 sq km. While the final count is likely to emerge by the end of May, officials say it is unlikely to be lower than the current estimates.The high density of rats in the city has raised serious concerns about spread of diseases like leptospirosis, rat-bite fever and Salmonellosis, a senior official, who did not wish to be named, said. Dr M Yeolekar, dean of Sion Hospital, said, "Of late, we are seeing large sized rats that could even weigh up to a kilo. Apart from acting as carriers of diseases, these huge pests can spread panic and even cause accidents."

The BMC drive, which started in January, will continue till May 25 and the teams will either trap the pests or poison burrows. Though the operation will not yield the exact number of rats in the city, based on the number of fumigated rat holes and animals trapped, officials can get an estimate of the density of rats in different areas. According to officials, the highest densities have been found in Dana Bunder in Masjid Bunder, a grain trading area where the ratio of rats to the number of residents could be many times the average for the city.

The port area, railway yards and slums are other areas of high density rat infestation.Deepak Adsule, pest control officer of BMC's health department, said that the rat combing operation is done during what is called 'fair season' when the city is relatively free from epidemics. "This makes it possible for us to divert staff to rat eradication operations from other disease prevention work," he said.A rat burrow is usually occupied by one animal and if fumigated burrows still show signs of rodent movement the next day, the holes are poisoned again. The number of burrows can give an estimate of the city's rat population.

How we compare with other Mega-cities
New York - One study estimated that the city has 80 Lakh rats, almost equal to its human population. However, another estimate said that it could be five times higher.

Shanghai - The city has a regulation that fines businesses and restaurants that do not control rats. A proposal was also made to put a contraceptive in rat bait to control the exploding population.

Tokyo - The city's growing rat population has often been blamed for chewed electric cables that sparked off fires. Complaints about rats grew by 10,000 to nearly 17,000 in 2004 over five years.

United Kingdom - A study estimated that the rodent population in U K is increasing and rats number 60 million - almost the same number as its human population.

Diseases spread by rats

Salmonellosis: A bacterium that thrives in sewers and septic tanks is spread by rats and can cause acute food poisoning.Rat Bite Fever: A flu caused when rats bite people.
Leptospirosis: Outbreaks spread by rat urine and droppings flare up during monsoon in Mumbai.
Plague: Uncommon now, but it devasted the city in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century.
Murine Typhus: Some types of the disease which causes fever and rash is spread by rat fleas and feces.

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