Thu | Oct 17, 2019

Portland gears up for rat fight

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2019 | 12:21 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
From left: Mayor of Port Antonio Paul Thompson, Member of Parliament Ann-Marie Vaz, and Public Health Inspector Samuel Roberts at a special meeting at the Port Antonio bus park yesterday to address the escalating rodent problem in the seaside town.
From left: Mayor of Port Antonio Paul Thompson, Member of Parliament Ann-Marie Vaz, and Public Health Inspector Samuel Roberts at a special meeting at the Port Antonio bus park yesterday to address the escalating rodent problem in the seaside town.

Port Antonio, Portland:

The eastern parish of Portland is arming itself to tackle a rat-infestation problem that has taken root especially in the seaside town of Port Antonio, the parish’s capital.

“They are just about everywhere. You hear them running up and down in the ceiling and you can hear them squeaking,” Public Health Inspector Yizouna Forsythe told community stakeholders in the first of three emergency meetings called to address the issue as the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Portland Municipal Corporation are teaming up to tackle the issue.

“It is very important that we have these rats under control. Rats are what we call vectors, and vectors are vehicles that can transmit disease,” she added.

“When you see rats during the day, you know that there is a very heavy infestation,” said Forsythe.

The problem of rodents, which have been plaguing business places in and around the resort town of Port Antonio, has been ongoing for some time, and the public health inspector has urged residents to store their food properly and limit meal sources for the pests.

“So if you eat food that has been contaminated by the urine of the rat, and they have that germ that can cause the leptospirosis disease, then you will come down with it. Proper storage of food and water is important for our safety. Proper disposal of garbage is important. If we eliminate their food source and water source, then we will be on our way to reducing the rat population,” she said.

The increase in rats and roaches has also sparked public outcry from operators of restaurants, grocery shops, and supermarkets, who are appealing for urgent action to combat the situation.

Vendors losing

Additionally, some market vendors, including Albert Phillips, who sells sweet potato, mangoes, cabbage, and other produce at the Musgrave Market, are crying over losses as rats continued to nibble on their produce.

East Portland Member of Parliament Ann-Marie Vaz yesterday said that she, too, has suffered as rats invaded her San-San home. She told The Gleaner that it will require all hands on deck to win the fight against the rodents.

“Rats invaded my home and chewed up two of my favourite shoes,” said Vaz. “I have been a victim and, therefore, I am in full support of the Ministry of Health initiative to rid Port Antonio and its environs of rats, which pose serious health risks to residents. Along with the Portland Municipal Corporation and the business community, I am backing this initiative. I will be providing, in short order, garbage receptacles so that residents can dispose of their waste properly. ”