Tuesday, December 08, 2009


“Rats just need to be near you, not bite you”

by Larry Geller

I’m not sure I wanted to know that… but it emphasizes that inspections and vermin control should be important aspects of public health.

Burl Burlingame posted an article last week simply titled Rats!, recapping his January 24, 1990, four-part chronicle of the Great Chinatown Fire. From last week’s post:

Almost a decade ago, I wrote a multi-part historical piece on Chinatown’s brush with Black Death at the turn of the century. Bubonic plague is carried by fleas that live on rats — which means rats just need to be near you, not bite you.

A hundred years ago, the Black Death was spreading and killing in Honolulu. At that time, our government was very concerned with the public’s health. Burlingame’s earlier article confirms that

The government was determined to do anything to save the city -- even burn it to the ground.

According to the article, at the time of his earlier writing:

Vector-control authorities continue to routinely test for plague among Honolulu’s waterfront rodent population because a new outbreak could occur at any time.

According to Norman Sato of the Health Department, the current population of rodents in Honolulu is the highest he’s seen in 30 years.

Last week we learned that the Governor will be pretty much destroying the state’s vector control department, while we have no assurances that the rat population has not grown even larger than the record numbers of a decade ago.

Modern methods of pest control combined with periodic educational and inspection visits can safeguard our health and our food supply. Even in times of economic difficulty, isn’t public health a necessary function of government?

The rats in the video have simply moved on, they are still among us unless something is done to reduce their number. The Governor is putting our health at risk.



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