'Conventional' methods may not contain scale of future rat problems

A leading health boss has warned new 'population-based measures' may be needed due to growing rodent numbers.

‘Conventional’ methods may not contain scale of future rat problems, Glasgow health boss warns iStock

A Glasgow health boss has warned the scale of rats in the future could mean that current “conventional” control methods “may be unable to contain” the problem.

Director of public health Emilia Crighton said new “population-based measures” to handle the rodents could be needed due to growing numbers, as she responded to a letter from city councillor Soryia Siddique voicing concerns.

In response to the letter, which raised worries about rodents carrying bacteria, Dr Crighton said “infestations mainly cause a level of low-grade psychological distress and loss of well-being in affected populations” similar to distress caused by noise or odour nuisance.

She said in a small number of cases rats could be vectors of Salmonellosis and life threatening Leptospirosis, which can be passed on to humans.

Dr Crighton, of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, said: “I think it is important to bear in mind that an increase in rodent populations has been a national phenomenon and is not restricted to Glasgow. The reasons for the increase in rodent populations are not completely understood but probably include climate change and increases in available food supply.”

Southside Central councillor Siddique alongside fellow Labour councillor Elaine McDougall wrote to the director urging the board to make “representations to Glasgow City Council regarding this very serious matter.”

City deputy Labour leader Siddique said: “I am disappointed at the lack of action from the Director of Public Health Greater Glasgow and Clyde.”

She said a recent demonstration at Govanhill Park “confirmed increasing community concerns regarding infestation and rats in Govanhill.”

Dr Siddique added: “The local community has been raising this for a while now. I have raised their concerns with Glasgow City Council and the Director of Public Health Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

“Govanhill communities deserve a clean and green environment free of infestation.

“All stakeholders and levels of government must work together to improve the living standards for the area.”

Dr Crighton said she had discussed rodents and health issues in the city with the council and the health protection unit.

She added: I accept that there is evidence of increase in rodent populations and of a commensurate increase in environmental nuisance.

“I understand that there is no place for complacency in addressing these problems, but I hope you will be able to take some reassurance from the evidence that there is no evidence of a commensurate increase in health protection issues.”

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesperson said: “We have received and noted the content of the letter. However, as it is Glasgow City Council’s environmental health teams who have responsibility for pest control, we hope that the councillors also share their concerns directly with them.”

The council provides a free pest control service for rats.

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