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Title: Urban rat infestations : society's response and the public health implications
Author: Battersby, Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3451 3929
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2002
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There have been many reports in the media of increasing populations of Rattus norvegicus (wild brown rat) and increasing complaints of infested premises in England and Wales. This study examines a wide range of issues surrounding public concerns about rat infestations. There is generally a public fear of rats and the study addresses why this should be and whether it is justified. An assessment is made of the rat population in England and Wales, which is lower than some of the wilder estimates, but could be 20 million, and also of the true rate of infestation. The implications for society of the assessed level of infestations are examined, taking into account that many infestations are associated with drainage defects. The study examines the implications for infestations of the increasing use of plastic for nearhouse drainage systems. The implications of rat behaviour for effective control within the complex legal and public administrative systems are also considered. This study revealed that there are ho real strategies in place either at the central government level or within local government for ensuring continued effective control of rats. There is under-reporting of infestations, which is most likely in areas of older housing and poorer communities where health status is already compromised. However, this study indicates that rats carry a greater number of diseases than previously thought and that although urban rats tend to carry fewer parasites than their rural counterparts they pose a greater risk to public health as they live in closer contact with humans. The risk to health is increased where there is a failure to effect proper controls with some areas of poorer housing and environmental quality being more at risk due to inadequate strategies to control rat populations. The implications for the economy of rat infestations have also been examined. Whilst there are substantial costs associated with both treatment and as the result of rat damage, these are spread throughout the economy and have largely been overlooked. Inadequate control will lead to increased economic costs. The study concludes that changes in society including local government and the utilities, has made effective control more difficult and necessitates better coordination and cooperation between agencies. The components of effective local authority strategies are set out with recommendations for improvements to the legal framework. At the outset of this study, apart from occasional scare stories in the media, this issue was largely ignored outside the pest control sector, but now at its conclusion it has an increased profile, to the extent that the author has been contracted to write a book on The Control of Rats for Chandos Publishing (Oxford) Ltd part of Chadwick House Group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rattus norvegicus