KUALA LUMPUR: Five public markets here have been classified as breeding grounds for rats and feared to be exposed to the potentially deadly leptospirosis or rat urine disease.
They are the Selayang wholesale market, Chow Kit, Pudu, Sentul and Keramat markets.
This was disclosed by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) senior assistant environmental health officer Mariappan Chinniah.
"We conduct operations to catch rats in these markets five times a week and each day, we would set up more than 50 mouse traps," he told Bernama recently.
Mariappan said within a month, around 6,000 rats in the five markets were caught - with an average catch of 50 rats per day.
"The figure has not changed much over the last five years," he added.
In fact, he said, these markets were also found to be the breeding grounds for rats as scores of active rat burrows were detected.
Mariappan said the rat population was more active in market areas than in houses due to the dirty and unkempt environment.
"The main factors contributing to the abundant presence of rats in markets are the water, food wastes and 'shelters' such as holes in the drain," he said.
Bernama reporters who were on the trail of DBKL Environmental Health Department officers in their operation to catch rats at Pudu market last Friday were astonished to see seven brown medium-sized rats caught within five minutes.
The surroundings in Pudu market were extremely filthy with chicken innards strewn on the floor and the drains channelling water from the market clogged with innards and blood.
Rats were also seen running around and there were about 1,000 of them in the location.
Mariappan said while DBKL conducted these operations frequently in an effort to achieve zero rats, everything depended on the attitude of the traders and hawkers.
He said rat control operation in markets was a difficult task, as use of rat poison was not allowed for fear of affecting the food sold.
Based on DBKL Pest Control Unit statistics last year, a total of 54,370 rodents were caught.
However, from January to May this year, the number caught was more alarming with 13,294 recorded compared with about 12,000 during the same period last year. - BERNAMA