Science and Environment

Deadly leptospirosis and other rat-borne diseases - a community fights back

- The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Following a recent warning of the Department of Health (DOH), residents of Barangay Dolores in San Fernando, Pampanga participated in a RatAttack campaign to protect their community against leptospirosis and other illnesses caused by rats and mice.

RatAttack is a community-based program campaign organized by Bayer CropScience, makers of the Racumin brand of anti-rodent products.

RatAttack empowers communities, helping them eliminate the threat of rats and rodents in their midst.

“It’s always better to prevent the outbreak of any disease. When people learn how to get rid of rats through general cleanliness and by using anti-rodent products, we can reduce if not eliminate the threat of leptospirosis and other rat-borne diseases,” said Mari-Gail Lasam-Cruz, marketing manager of Neumann & Mueller Philippines Inc., exclusive marketer and distributor of Bayer Advanced Racumin in the Philippines.

“During each RatAttack campaign, we are able to show that Bayer is your partner in protecting your family and community,“ said Lasam-Cruz.

During the RatAttack event, residents of Barangay Dolores attended a lecture about the behavior and sleeping patterns of rats and mice. They were also taught the various means to control the population of these pests.

Educational leaflets and samples of Racumin products were also distributed to the barangay, so residents could immediately apply what they learned.

Duns Patrick Imana, OIC of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Division of the San Fernando City Mayor’s Office, was also present to teach participants about the importance of proper sanitation in preventing the spread of rat-borne diseases.

Preventing disease

The DOH has reported a rise in leptospirosis cases nationwide. According to a DOH report, 1,728 leptospirosis cases were reported from Jan. 1 to May 26 this year. This represents more than 200 percent rise in leptospirosis cases compared to last year, when 555 cases were reported for the same period.

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the bacterium leptospira, which is present in rat urine. Leptospira is able to infect people that wade in floodwaters contaminated by rat urine. 

Initial leptospirosis symptoms are similar to the flu — including fever, severe headache, red eyes and muscle pain. Calf muscle pain is also reported in certain cases.

Severe leptospirosis cases may harm the liver, kidneys or even the brain. In these cases, symptoms may include jaundice, dark-colored urine, light stool, low urine output, and severe headache. Without prompt medical treatment, leptospirosis can kill.

Removing rats and mice

Eliminating rats and rodents that spread diseases through their waste is the best way to prevent leptospirosis and other diseases. To do this, the first step is to clean away dirt and trash that attract rats and rodents in the first place.

“Keeping our surroundings clean is the first step in keeping our household rat-free. Dispose of junk that rodents can use as hiding places. Wipe away food crumbs and spills. However, in neighborhoods where rats are already present, cleanliness is not enough. You must also use rat control products,” said Bubbles Santos, operations manager of Neumann & Mueller.

Diminishing effect

Not all rat control products are equal, however. An effective rat control product is one that can outsmart rats.

“Rats and mice are very intelligent. They can detect poison. They observe and remember seeing other rats and mice that die from eating a certain bait — so they learn to avoid that bait in the future,” said Cruz.

“Instant kill” products, for example, look impressive when used in the beginning: the user sees rats and mice die upon consumption of these products.

The biggest disadvantage of using these instant kill products, however, is that rats and mice become wary of them. Surviving rats and mice are able to observe their fellow rodents who die after consuming the bait, and they learn to avoid the product. 

In short, the benefit of using instant kill products diminishes in the long term.

Slow is better

Rat control products that have a “slow kill” mechanism are better in the long-term. When rats and mice consume a slow kill product, they don’t die right away at the site near the bait. This prevents what is known as “bait shyness” which is the tendency of rats to avoid bait that they suspect as harmful.

These rats and mice are able to travel far from the bait, and die days later when the product takes effect. This fools other rodents into thinking that the bait is safe to eat, and they will keep on eating it.

“The rats and mice die far away from the slow kill bait, so other rats and mice don’t become suspicious. This is the long-term benefit of a slow kill rat control product,” Cruz said.

Three choices

There are three types of slow kill rat control products offered by Racumin: Racumin Tracking Powder, Racumin Ready-Made Bait, and Racumin Paste. Households can choose the product that best suits their needs.

Racumin Tracking Powder is placed in pathways where rats and mice pass. The powder sticks to their fur and when the rodents clean themselves (through licking their fur), they ingest the poison. Racumin Ready-Made Bait is made from fragrant rice, which attracts rodents. Racumin Paste comes in easy-to-use sachets that can be conveniently placed in areas frequented by rodents.

Rats and mice that consume Racumin products die after two to three days. This prevents other rats and mice from getting suspicious of the products.

The Racumin RatAttack campaign is organized by Bayer CropScience and Neumann & Mueller Philippines Inc., in partnership with selected communities. Racumin products are available in supermarkets nationwide.










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