Cork GP warns: Rat infestation could lead to disease

Cork GP warns: Rat infestation could lead to disease
 Credit: Damian Coleman.

A BLACKPOOL-based GP has warned of the health dangers of rat infestations being caused by chronic levels of dumping in parts of the city.

A number of rat infestations have been reported in Blackpool, Ballyvolane, Mayfield, Knocknaheeny and Baker’s Road in recent months as illegal dumping continues despite new strict bylaws on waste collection being introduced by Cork City Council.

Councillor John Sheehan, who runs a GP practice on Thomas Davis Street, said high levels of fly-tipping and hot summer weather will see rubbish ferment and attract more vermin. He has warned people risk getting Weil’s disease if they come into contact with rubbish that has been covered in rat urine.

The condition can affect the kidneys and cause bleeding by a bacteria entering the body through broken, grazed or cut skin, especially on the hands and feet and sometimes through the lining of the mouth, nose and eyes. Dr Sheehan said: “The big problem with illegal dumping all over the area is that it is attracting rats and they can often spread Weil’s disease through their urine. I would urge people and especially children not to handle any rubbish without gloves and to contact the environment department of the city council to get rid of it.

“However, kids will naturally be out playing with the good weather. Parents need to ensure that kids wash their hand and it’s important they don’t touch anything directly because you can pick up diseases from rats and particularly from their urine. If rats are around, their urine will be on everything.

“It’s just awful that there is so much dumping. City council has a get-tough policy and is employing two extra litter wardens but then there are the issues with Ellis’s Yard and other areas and that needs to be sorted out.

“As a society, we need to tackle this because it is getting worse and worse. I haven’t come across any incidents of Weil’s disease yet, thankfully. It’s not a very common condition but people can get quite sick if they get it,” he added.

Councillor Thomas Gould (SF) warned dumping will cause even more problems as temperatures rise, bringing flies and maggots. “You are never more than six feet away from a rat but they are most visible when there is cover and there is access to food so if people are dumping rubbish with food waste in it, it’s like bees to nectar. Some people just don’t understand or care,” he added.

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