Fast food scraps threaten rat plague - UK group
LONDON - Britain is facing a sharp rise in its rat population as growing numbers of people leave fast food scraps in the street, an environment group warned yesterday. Keep Britain Tidy said the rodents were abandoning their traditional haunts underground and were roaming the streets, enticed by discarded remnants of burgers, pizzas and crisps.
\"The rat population is on the rise and soon it\'ll be as common to see a rodent on our street as it is to see a dog or a cat,\" said group Director, Sue Nelson.
The practice of dumping fast food litter and scraps on the street rather than binning it - with young men the worst offenders - was behind the rise.
According to the National Rodent Survey in 2001, Britain\'s rat population has grown by nearly one quarter since 1998 and is now estimated at 60 million, two million more than the human population.
On average a rat can give birth every 24-28 days and just a single pair of rats can produce a colony of 2,000 a year. Around 200 Britons a year contract Weil\'s Disease - an infection which can lead to kidney or liver failure and eventually death and which is carried in rat\'s urine.
To highlight the issue, Keep Britain Tidy launched a cinema advert yesterday entitled \"How close do you want them to get?\" The ad culminates in a shocking image of a young woman sleeping in a bed of rats - echoing the nightmare scenario from James Herbert\'s classic horror tale \"The Rats\", in which mutant rodents begin to prey on humans.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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