Shenzhen bracing for a massive rat infestation this year

Natalie Wang , April 9, 2014 8:53am

One of the urban legends about cities is that you are never six feet away from a rat, and this may be particularly in Shenzhen as the city’s center for disease control and prevention (CDC) revealed that the density of rats in the city will increase five to six-fold this year from 2013 levels, Yangcheng Evening News reported on April 8.

One of the reasons leading to the infestation is the city’s sprawling subway network, according to Zhang Shaohua, director of the city’s CDC. “Shenzhen’s construction of subways may have caused the increase in rat density. In addition, some of the areas monitored by CDC failed to make significant progress on rat control. As a result, this year we have discovered 17 cases of rat-infected EHFV (epidemic hemorrhagic fever virus) compared with only 10 cases last year,” Zhang explained. The total number of rats in the Shenzhen were not disclosed in the report.

Photo credit: NPR

Zhang added that besides the subway, the city’s bustling cargo ports and its subtropical climate, which makes it more susceptible to disease infections, also help attract alien pest species.

In addition to the rat population growing, the total number of flies and mosquitoes in the city also climbed in the city, the report said. What has made pest control more difficult lately is that over the years, pests have become immune to some of the pesticides used. Liang Zhuonan, an expert with the CDC, said that lab tests have showed the resistance of mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches towards certain kinds of pyrethroid insecticides has grown dozens of times compared with 10 years ago. If the day has really come when locals can no longer tolerate the rats, one solution might just be eating them.  After all, Guangdong calls rat cuisine a delicacy.

Home page image: Reuters 

Natalie Wang

Journalist based in Hong Kong.