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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rodent control in Barbados


The island of Barbados, in the eastern Caribbean, experienced an increase in the number of cases of leptospirosis between 1961 and 1971. With assistance from Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, multiple surveys were done to determine cause of the problem. The surveys concluded that (1) most cases of leptospirosis occurred just after heavy rainfall; (2) persons in the low socio-economic groups were more prone to acquire the disease; (3) rats (Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus, and black rat, R. rattus) were the major reservoir of leptospira organisms, with approximately one in three rats examined positive for leptospira organisms; and (4) persons performing specific types of work were the ones who are most frequently infected (e.g. farm, cane, and abattoir workers). The accomplishments of the newly-established Rodent Control Unit are described. After four years of operation, Barbadians are more aware of the rodent problem in the island today, as compared to the pre-Unit era, when rats and mice were commonly seen in public markets, bonds, warehouses, institutions, and dock areas. Today, in spite of the numerous eating places, stores, food and feed plants, etc., the rodent problem is relatively minor as compared with the past. The public is also more aware of the potential problems with rodents, and therefore quickly seeks help from the Rodent Control Unit. A systematic approach to rodent control has been achieved. Anticoagulant rodent baits (liquid and solid) are used extensively in the control work. Rodent Control work in Barbados is an ongoing process and is second-to-none in the Caribbean.

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