Health inspectors suspect the rat population is increasing in Chinatown, and they plan a count to gauge the severity of the problem.
Rat sightings on the
rise in Chinatown
Health officials say the suspected
increase in vermin is tied to garbage
left on sidewalks
By Christine Donnelly
"We noticed there's a little more activity ... more sightings and more reports," said Norman Sato, a supervisor in the vector control branch of the state Health Department. He had no hard data but said his division would conduct a nighttime count of the creatures within a month. Any increase was likely related to garbage left out on the sidewalks overnight, providing a feast for the vermin, he said.
There appeared to be no immediate health threat, since most rats were seen on the streets rather than inside buildings. "But it's important to try to remedy this before it gets any worse," he said.
Rats proliferate anywhere there is food, water and a place to hide, Sato said. It is essential to dispose of garbage quickly and to ensure that it is securely covered while awaiting pickup.
Downtown Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Lynne Matusow said the board had not heard any complaints about rats lately but that garbage on the sidewalks was a continual problem.