Caught a rat? Turn it in for 28 cents

This article is more than 12 months old

How to prevent a deadly epidemic which spreads by rodent urine?

Get locals to catch and kill rats. At least that's the solution proposed by officials in a Philippine city.

Olongapo city residents are being paid 10 pesos (28 cents) for each dead adult rat and five pesos for each dead young rat they turn in.

Err... ever heard of pest control?

City health administrator Jaime Alcano said the scheme is the first of its kind in the Philippines. (Gee, what a surprise.)

The scheme was thought up by the city's mayor Rolen Paulin as a public relations exercise to educate people about the bacterial disease leptospirosis.

Only 44 rats have been swapped for money since the month-long campaign began last week. 

A more sensible plan, please

Mr Alcano said the headlines generated by the bounties are more important than how many rodents are killed.

“The success of our campaign does not rest solely on the number of rats captured. This is just part of our awareness campaign against the disease,” he said.

We're not sure how much people will actually learn from catching rats. Thankfully, the city has another more sensible plan in the works.

All Olongapo teachers will have to undergo seminars on how to avoid catching the disease, so they can pass the information on to their students, said Mr Alcano​.

What is leptospirosis​?

Leptospirosis is an infectious bacterial disease that lives in animal urine and is often transmitted during annual flooding that plagues many parts of the Philippines.

People catch it by walking in floods or having infected water touch cuts on their skin.

In mild cases, it causes flu-like symptoms, but in its most severe form, it can cause organ failure and massive internal bleeding.

Between five and 30 percent of infected people die, according to the World Health Organization.

Olongapo, a city of about 200,000 people, was swamped by floods in September last year, triggering a leptospirosis epidemic.

More than 300 residents were infected over the following month, Mr Alcano said. 10 died from the disease.

Source: AFP