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Watch for rats and mosquitoes

HOTELS, wet markets and small or medium-sized restaurants were found to have the biggest rat problem in a recent investigation by local health authorities.

A citywide rat-control campaign starts today. The month-long campaign will target Expo zones, wet markets, restaurants, companies that produce, process or sell food, plus hotels, schools, green areas in residential complexes and public green space. March and October are the peak seasons for rats in the city.

Checks in the run up to the campaign examined 988 sites earlier this month. A total of 399 - or 40.38 percent - were found to have traces of rats. The percentage was slightly higher than the period before a rat campaign last autumn, which means the local rat problem has returned and even became more severe despite the efforts taken last year, officials said.

Wet markets, small or medium-sized restaurants, food processing facilities, wholesale markets and food selling firms were found to have the highest amount of recent traces of rats, such as fresh excretion.

"The dismantling of many old residential complexes, the construction sites, a lack of stringent laws and the public's poor awareness are the main causes for the increasing rat problem," said Dr Xu Renquan from the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "We also found rats hidden in the air-conditioning systems of some office buildings."

In addition to rats, the city also faces a mosquito threat this year, Xu said.

"We found this year's first batch of mosquitoes on March 16, five days earlier than last year," Xu said. "With the recent heavy rain and warm weather, we may have to deal with more mosquitoes than last year if we don't carry out effective prevention measures."

A mosquito-control campaign is expected to begin next month.

In preparation for next year's Expo, the Shanghai Office of Patriotic Health's Campaign Committee will conduct a series of spot check on pests, including flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches and rats in underground facilities such as parking lots and subway stations, plus at supermarkets, hotels, construction sites, restaurants, buses, schools and kindergartens later this year.


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