Home Health News Desperate rats are brazenly searching for food during the coronavirus pandemic, CDC warns – USA TODAY

Desperate rats are brazenly searching for food during the coronavirus pandemic, CDC warns – USA TODAY

5 min read

They are furry and they are furious – and they may be the most desperate of diners to yearn for restaurants to unlock from shutdown. 

Rats, it seems, haven’t been satisfied with curbside pickup or delivery during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that rodent populations – which rely on a banquet of scraps and waste in restaurant dumpsters – are spiking in certain areas. Restaurant trash bins are no longer overflowing, and the famished creatures are scrambling for new sources of food.   

“Jurisdictions have closed or limited service at restaurants and other commercial establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas,” the CDC said. “Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity.”

Environmental and health officials may witness an increase in service requests amid reports of “unusual or aggressive rodent behavior.”

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Rats have even resorted to cannibalism and infanticide, such as in the restaurant mecca of New York City, according to some reports. 

“They’re mammals just like you and I, and so when you’re really, really hungry, you’re not going to act the same. You’re going to act very bad, usually,” Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC News. “So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups.”

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New Orleans has also seen packs of rats surging into city streets. 

“I turn the corner, there’s about 30 rats at the corner, feasting on something in the middle of the street,” Charles Marsala of New Orleans Insider Tours and AWE News told CBS News.

Pest control workers in some cities are classified as essential employees. The nation’s capital has logged more than 800 calls regarding rodents in the past month, shows city 311 data cited by The Washington Post.

Communities are right to be wary: Rats and mice can directly or indirectly transmit over 35 diseases, according to the CDC. 

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Residents and business owners should eliminate conditions that would attract rats, the CDC said, by sealing access points to buildings, discarding debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins and removing pet and bird food from yards.

“Rodent bait stations may become a more attractive food source for rodents, so stations may need to be serviced more often,” the CDC said. “It is important to monitor rodent activity during this time and develop indicators to help inform rodent control strategies. 

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