Man attempts to board flight with rat down his trousers

Rats are a major risk to the health of the community. They can assist transmission of serious diseases, including the plague, dysentery, leptospirosis and typhus fever.

Their fleas, lice and ticks can also adversely affect pets and humans.

Their excreta and hair contaminate food and utensils, causing food poisoning and economic loss. Rat colonies damage and foul buildings and furnishings, and they generate a terrible smell.

Rats’ gnawing will damage buildings, pipes, conduits and wiring and has been the cause of electrical fires.

Rats normally come out at night and usually are not seen unless they are very hungry or present in large numbers.

Spot the rat

To check whether rats are around, look for:

  • droppings (12mm to 18mm long)
  • debris such as snail shells with the sides eaten out, almond shells, cape lilac berries, chop bones, etc left in the corners of sheds, under homes and other secluded spots
  • signs of fruit and vegetables having been eaten
  • greasy rub marks along paths they travel
  • burrow holes around buildings
  • signs of gnawing damage
  • pet dogs, cats, birds being more excitable than usual
  • squeaking, gnawing or movement noises in walls, cupboard and ceilings and under floors

Avoiding rat problems

Rats can be discouraged and controlled by denying them food and shelter. A few simple precautions will prevent or help get rid of them:


  • store firewood away from the sides of sheds and fences and keep it well clear (40cm) off the ground
  • regularly remove or limit garden waste or other disused material in sheds or around your yard
  • remove fruit and nuts from trees or vines at the end of the season
  • block holes and other potential access points around all buildings
  • keep pet food dishes clean and store bulk pet food supplies in a manner which denies access to rats
  • rubbish bins and compost containers should be well maintained and free from holes. Meat scraps must never be composted
  • thoroughly examine your property to ensure you have discouraged rats from making your home their home

For further information read the  Facts on rats brochure (PDF 153KB)

Wales Air Forum

Man attempts to board flight with rat down his trousersBy Tom Irwin
A man was briefly detained at Melbourne international airport after attempting to pass through a body scanner with a live rat down his trousers.A spokeswoman for the airport, Anna Gillett, told the Herald Sun that the passenger had wanted to take his pet rat on board the aircraft.

“The passenger was obviously not allowed to do that, so he chose not to fly without the animal,” she added.

The aircraft is understood to have been bound for London, according to a caller to radio station3AW.

Ms. Gillett said the Australian Federal Police were called to deal with the incident, which occurred Sunday afternoon local time.

Police confirmed the passenger “voluntarily offloaded themselves from the flight”, was not arrested and was allowed to leave the airport.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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Squirrels infected with plague close California campground

News Reports


Plague-infected squirrel shuts Los Angeles park


California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

Related Stories

Parts of a national forest in California have been evacuated and closed down after a squirrel was found to be infected with the plague.

Los Angeles officials say visitors were ordered to leave the Angeles National Forest as a precaution after the rodent was trapped in a routine check.

They said no people in the area were believed to have been infected with the disease, known as the Black Death.

The plague killed as many as 25 million Europeans during the Middle Ages.


It sounds like a screenplay for a Hollywood B-movie: bubonic plague-infected squirrels descend on Los Angeles. But despite the excitement among Angelenos on social media about the “Black Death” being found at a California campsite, health officials say this is not a problem for urban squirrels.

City conditions do not lend themselves to having fleas co-existing in large numbers as they would in a forested area, they say. Even in this forest area where the squirrel was found on Thursday, only five “plague-positive” squirrels have turned up in the last 20 years or so. This particular squirrel is dead – tests are being conducted to determine if it died of natural causes or the plague itself.

It is a bacterial infection which can be transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas.

If not treated with antibiotics, it is usually deadly.

There have been only four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County since 1984, none of which were fatal, according to officials.

Further testing of squirrels in the region will be carried out before the campgrounds are re-opened to the public.

Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, told the BBC that agriculture workers would dust squirrel burrows in order to reduce the flea population.

He said that while the area was closed to camping, people would still be able to hike through.

He advised that anyone who wished to do so should use insect repellent and ensure that any pets they bring have a flea collar.



Bubonic plague

is a zoonotic disease, circulating mainly in fleas[1] on small rodents and is one of three types of bacterial infections caused by Yersinia pestis (formerly known as Pasteurella pestis), which belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae. Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two thirds of infected humans within 4 days.

The term bubonic plague is derived from the Greek word βουβών, meaning “groin.” Swollen lymph nodes (buboes) especially occur in the armpit and groin in persons suffering from bubonic plague. Bubonic plague was often used synonymously for plague, but it does in fact refer specifically to an infection that enters through the skin and travels through the lymphatics, as is often seen in flea-borne infections.

Bubonic plaguealong with the septicemic plague and the pneumonic plague, which are the two other manifestations of Y. pestisis commonly believed to be the cause of the Black Death that swept through Europe in the 14th century and killed an estimated 25 million people, or 3060% of the European population.[2] Because the plague killed so many of the working population, wages rose and some historians have seen this as a turning point in European economic development.[3][4]


More about Bubonic_plague from


South Africa: Dr Mamphela Ramphele to form a new party political platform ‘Agang’ meaning ‘Build South Africa’- 180213 1030z

“Dr Mamphela Ramphele today declared her intention to form a party political platform for all South Africans that will focus on rekindling hope that building the country of our dreams is possible in our lifetime.

(Photo: Dr Mamphela Ramphele

In a speech delivered at the Womens Gaol on Constitution Hill, she said: Our country is at risk because self-interest has become the driver of many of those in positions of authority who should be focussed on serving the public.

She added: The great society to which we committed ourselves following our relatively peaceful political transition is rapidly unravelling before our eyes. The impressive achievements of the past eighteen years are being undermined by poor governance at all levels of society. An unchecked culture of impunity and the abuse of power as well as public resources rob children, young people, rural and urban poor people of the fruits of freedom.

Her decision to enter politics had not been easy, she said, and she had no illusions that the task ahead would be easy. She saw herself as a bridge between my generation and that of my children. She added: Bridges get trampled upon. But she nevertheless declared her trust in South Africans capacity to come together at critical times to do what others believe is impossible.

We have been here before, she said. We managed to pull ourselves from the brink of disaster before and surprised those who under-estimated our resolve as a people. The political party platform we are working on forming is an opportunity for all citizens to join hands in shaping it to ensure that it responds to the yearnings of citizens who have largely stood on the sidelines for lack of an appropriate political home.

At this stage of development, she said, We launch this initiative under the name Agang, or in the Nguni languages of our country, Akhani, which can be interpreted in English as Build South Africa.

During her speech, Dr Ramphele laid out several critical discussions her party would initiate across the country: the power and responsibility of active citizenship; enabling good governance; developing improved competency in the public service; how the economy can be restructured for growth, sustainability, and improved equality; creating education and training systems for the 21st century that better position youth in a competitive world; and raising South Africas standing in the world.

Dr Ramphele also reiterated her earlier call for electoral reform. She said: Our rallying cry during the struggle for freedom was for the people to govern, yet the system of choosing Members of Parliament from lists drawn up by political parties gives disproportionate power to party bosses at the expense of ordinary citizens.

We should be able to vote for the person in our own area we want to represent us in Parliament, so we can hold them accountable for the electoral promises they make. We want an MP for Marikana, an MP for De Doorns, and an MP for Sasolburg, so if the people are unhappy and the MP is not responsive enough, they will be voted out at the next election.

She announced a one million signature campaign calling for electoral reform and said it must be the first order of business of the post-2014 election parliament.

Concluding her speech, Dr Ramphele, a past student and community development activist, researcher, university executive, and former Managing Director at The World Bank, declared:

I invite all compatriots to work with us to build a South Africa we can all be proud of. We owe it to you, our children, and your children to leave them a legacy of a great country. I have put up my hand. I ask you all to join this effort. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less. Our mothers and grandmothers deserve nothing less. All South Africans deserve nothing less.

Latest: Agang intends to contest the next general election – eNCA

Who is Mamphela Ramphele?

Mamphela Aletta Ramphele has been a student activist, a medical doctor, a community development activist, a researcher, a university executive, a global public servant and is now an active citizen in both the public and private sectors.

She was born in the village of Uitkyk in the Bochum district of Limpopo Province, an area to which she still regularly returns to share in the life of her extended family and community. The daughter of primary school teachers, she was attracted to science at her rural high school and resolved that she wanted to become a doctor. After a year of studies at what was then called the University of the North, near Polokwane, she was admitted to the Medical School of the then University of Natal, aged 20.

She borrowed the train fare from Polokwane to Durban from an aunt, and was soon pitched into a life of medical studies and political activism. She served as a local office-bearer of the South African Students Organisation, working with leaders such as Steve Biko and Barney Pityana. She served her medical internship at King Edward Hospital, Durban, followed by a surgical internship at Livingstone Hospital, Port Elizabeth both urban hospitals serving black South Africans.

She next served as a medical officer at Mount Coke Mission Hospital near King Williams Town, where she re-connected with Steve Biko and other activists of the Black Consciousness Movement who were launching community programmes based on the principles of self-reliance and liberation through development. As part of this effort, she became the founding head of the Zanempilo Community Health Centre in the village of Zinyoka near King. In the wake of the Soweto uprising in 1976, she was detained without trial, released after five months but soon afterwards served with an apartheid banning order, banishing her to the Naphuno district of Tzaneen.

In Limpopo, Mamphela settled in the community of Lenyenye Township, where she started a clinic in the backyard of a local church and developed it into Ithuseng Community Health Centre. Apart from primary health care, the project promoted development initiatives such as brickmaking and vegetable growing. At the same time, she completed a B Comm degree, a Diploma in Tropical Hygiene and a Diploma in Public Health.

After her banning orders expired, after a brief spell back at Livingstone Hospital, she moved to Cape Town, where she first lived in Gugulethu and re-entered the academic world at the University of Cape Town, leading later to a PhD in Social Anthropology. She worked at the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at UCT, where she took an interest in the plight of people living in migrant-labour hostels, and worked for some time with the Western Cape Mens Hostel Dwellers Association in a project to secure better living conditions and their rights to family life. While working at UCT, she bought her first house, in Mowbray, Cape Town, in the face of initial protests from her white neighbours.” –

Scotland: Legionella Outbreak in South West Edinburgh 1 dead, 37 confirmed, 45 suspected cases – Updated 11 June 2012

NHS Lothian is now investigating 17* confirmed cases and 15* suspected cases of Legionnaires’ disease. (*See update below)


One patient, a man in his 50s with under lying health conditions, has died while being treated at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Thirteen men and two women aged between 33 and 74 are in a critical condition with the disease and are being treated in intensive care in hospitals in Lothian. One man has recovered and has been discharged.

Although unconfirmed, 15 other cases, ten men and five women are also being investigated. All of these patients are being treated in hospitals in Lothian.

The majority of the confirmed cases are linked geographically to the Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton areas of Edinburgh. Investigations into the other cases and possible links with the area are on-going.

The source of the outbreak continues to be investigated by officials from the City of Edinburgh Council’s Environmental Health Service and Scientific Service and the Health and Safety Executive.

Industrial cooling towers have been identified as a potential source of the infection and the cooling systems at four facilities in the area have been subject to an additional chemical treatment.

North British Distillery is being investigated among other sources

Further inspections of these facilities will be carried out by the Environmental Health Service and the Health and Safety Executive over the coming days to ensure control measures continue to be effective.

Samples have been taken from these four facilities but, legionella is a difficult bacteria to culture and it may take up to ten days before results of the samples are available.

Other possible sources are not being ruled out.

Dr Duncan McCormick, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Chair of the Incident Management Team, said:

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of the patient that died.

Investigations into the possible source of this outbreak are on-going. Meanwhile, medical staff have been actively identifying possible cases to allow us to ascertain the full extent of this outbreak.

I would like to reassure the public that household water supplies are safe and that Legionnaire’s disease cannot be contracted by drinking water.

Older people, particularly men, heavy smokers and those with other health conditions are at greater risk of contracting the disease.

I would urge anyone who develops symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to contact NHS 24 or their GP.”

BBC: Industrial water cooling towers in the south west of Edinburgh have been treated in an attempt to stop an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

A man in his 50s has died as the number of confirmed and suspected cases in Edinburgh continues to rise.

NHS Lothian’s Dr Duncan McCormick said medical staff were identifying possible cases in an attempt to discover the full extent of the outbreak.

About Legionnaires’ disease

The first case was identified on Thursday 28 May. The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can begin anytime from between 2-14 days after exposure to the bacteria.

Legionella bacteria sometimes find their way into artificial water supply systems, such as air conditioning systems, hot water services, and cooling towers. Given the right conditions, legionella bacteria can contaminate these water systems.

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water. However, the condition is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. It cannot be contracted through drinking water.

There are strict regulations regarding the maintenance and control of water supply systems, such as either keeping the water cooled below 20C (68F), or heated above 60C (140F), in order to prevent an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Symptoms usually begin with an initial phase lasting 1-2 days, in which you experience mild headaches and muscle pain. This is followed by the onset of more severe symptoms including, high fever, usually a temperature of 40C (104F) or above, more severe muscle pain and chills.

Once the bacteria begin to infect your lungs, you may also experience a persistent cough, which is usually dry at first but as the infection develops you may start coughing up mucus or possibly blood, shortness of breath and chest pains.

About 30% of people with Legionnaires’ disease will also experience gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and
loss of appetite.

About half of those with Legionnaires’ disease will also experience changes to their mental state, such as confusion.

STV: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon says it is important not to point fingers as the number of Legionnaires cases continues to rise.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Sturgeon said there was a strong working assumption the source of the outbreak had been traced.

She said: Health Protection Scotland are taking the appropriate steps to identify the source as quickly as possible.

Theres the strong working assumption surrounding cooling towers in the south west of Edinburgh and those towers have been chemically treated.

While the source is being investigated it is important not to point fingers at individual companies.

New ITV blog worth a visit

Update 6 June 2012 1940 BST:

There are now 21 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and 19 suspected cases in Scotland, the country’s health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.- Sky News

Update – 08/06/2012 15:30 BST

NHS Lothian advise that…

Number of cases stands at 74

The latest reports from the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR) on the Edinburgh Legionnaires’ disease outbreak show that there are now 28 confirmed cases and 46 suspected cases. This is an increase of 13 on the total numbers of confirmed and suspected cases.

As at 12pm today, of those cases being treated in hospital, 14 were in intensive care and 30 are on general wards.

A total of 15 cases are being treated in the community, ten have been discharged from hospital and one person has sadly died.

Four cases are being treated outside of the NHS Lothian area. A patient who was yesterday being treated in NHS Highland has now been transferred to Glasgow, one patient is being treated in the north of England, one in NHS Tayside and one in NHS Lanarkshire. At this stage all these cases are considered to be linked to the south west Edinburgh outbreak.

The ages of the confirmed cases ranges between 33 and 76, with more males than females affected.

As of 10pm yesterday, NHS 24 had received 492 calls to the dedicated helpline for Legionnaires’ disease.

The Health and Safety Executive and Edinburgh City Council are continuing their investigations into the possible source of the outbreak. The HSE has today served an Improvement Notice on one of the companies responsible for one of the cooling towers which is being investigated, although this does not mean that this tower has been identified as the source of the outbreak.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “As we expected, we have seen a rise in the number of cases associated with this outbreak today. It is reassuring to see that ten people have now been discharged from hospital.

“NHS Lothian continues to be very busy and contact has been made with other health boards in case capacity at other hospitals is required.

“The fact remains that the risk to the general public remains low but anyone with concerns should contact their GP or NHS 24’s dedicated hotline on 0800 0858 531.

“I want to stress that this bacteria is not passed on person to person or by drinking water.

“Investigations into the source of this outbreak are continuing. It is important to note that in issuing an Improvement Notice, the HSE does not believe there is an immediate risk to workers or members of the public. Nor can it be assumed that this tower is the source of the outbreak.

“Investigations into all of the other towers in the area are continuing.”

Dr Duncan McCormick, Chair of the IMT and Consultant in Public Health Medicine at NHS Lothian, said: “The number of patients with confirmed or suspected Legionnaires’ disease has increased since yesterday. This is exactly in line with what we expected and what we have predicted so far, based on the first presentation of patients and the incubation period of Legionnaires’ disease which is between two and 14 days, but usually has an average of five to six days.

“We expect that the numbers of patients affected will peak over the weekend and then begin to fall as we move into the beginning of next week.

“The majority of patients who are presenting now are also on the lower end of the sickness scale and are therefore more likely to be treated in the community with appropriate care than be admitted into hospital, meaning that they are also unlikely to have underlying health conditions.”

Update – 11/06/2012 1417 BST

This is the latest at this time

Outbreak of Legionella in South West Edinburgh. Update – 10/06/2012 16:00

Legionnaires’ outbreak update

Number of cases stands at 82

The latest reports from the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR) on the Edinburgh Legionnaires’ disease outbreak show that there are now 37 confirmed cases and 45 suspected cases. This is an increase of one in the total number of confirmed cases and an increase of one suspected case.

As at noon today, of those cases being treated in hospital, 15 are in intensive care and 26 are on general wards.

A total of 16 cases are being treated in the community, 19 have been discharged from hospital and one person has died.

Five cases are being treated outwith the NHS Lothian area. One patient is being treated in the north of England, two in NHS Tayside, one in NHS Lanarkshire and one patient from NHS Highland is now being treated in Glasgow. At this stage all these cases are considered to be linked to the south west Edinburgh outbreak.

The ages of the confirmed cases ranges between 33 and 76, with more males than females affected.

NHS 24 has received 630 calls to the dedicated helpline for Legionnaires’ disease.

The Health and Safety Executive and Edinburgh City Council are continuing their investigations into the possible source of the outbreak.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “These latest figures are reassuring and in line with expectations, and although it is too early to be definite they do suggest we are now in the later stages of this outbreak. All those involved are responding extremely well: NHS Lothian services are coping with the demands on them and the City of Edinburgh Council and the Health and Safety Executive continue to make significant progress in their investigation to identify the source of this outbreak.”

Dr Duncan McCormick, Chair of the IMT and Consultant in Public Health Medicine at NHS Lothian, said: “We are pleased with the slow down in the number of cases presenting and we hope this will continue over the coming days.

“The risk to the general public is low but anyone with concerns should contact their GP or NHS 24’s dedicated hotline on 0800 0858 531.”

Legionnaire’s disease symptoms

Colombia: Anthrax outbreak – El brote de Ántrax – 31 May 2012

Microscopic image of B. anthracis bacteria
and spores. (Source: CDC) (Click image for more about Anthrax)

One person has skin lesions and 16 animals have died in an anthrax outbreak in northern Colombia, near the Venezuelan border.

A notification on the website for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said the outbreak has affected two farms in the department of La Guajira.

Colombia’s Agriculture Ministry sent the information to the OIE on May 28.

The source of the deadly bacteria has not yet been determined, the report said.

One of the affected populations “belongs to an indigenous community in the department of La Guajira,” the notice states.

“The community has been informed of the protocol to be applied to dispose of the carcasses, mainly the fact that, under no circumstances, the dead animals must be neither manipulated nor consumed,” the report said.

Humans commonly contract anthrax through close contact with infected animals or eating ones that have died from the disease. “Susceptible species are being vaccinated.

An intense epidemiological surveillance is being conducted in the area together with the public health authorities,” the notification continued.

The animals will be also be quarantined in response to the outbreak.

Three goats, three sheep and two pigs have died from the outbreak on one farm.

Another five goats and two pigs have died on a separate farm. Anthrax, also used as a biological weapon, is caused by the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracia, the OIE website states.

The disease causes dark ulcers on the skin of infected people when contracted from exposure to infected animals, and it occurs on all the continents.

Wednesday, 30 May, 2012 at 21:14 (09:14 PM) UTC RSOE

Colombia: El brote de �ntrax

Una persona tiene lesiones en la piel y de 16 animales han muerto en un brote de �ntrax en el norte de Colombia, cerca de la frontera con Venezuela.

Una notificaci�n en la p�gina web de la Organizaci�n Mundial de Sanidad Animal (OIE) dijo que el brote ha afectado a dos fincas en el departamento de La Guajira.

Agricultura de Colombia Ministerio envi� la informaci�n a la OIE el 28 de mayo.

La fuente de las bacterias mortales a�n no se ha determinado, seg�n el informe.

Una de las poblaciones afectadas “pertenece a una comunidad ind�gena en el departamento de La Guajira”, en el anuncio de los estados.

“La comunidad ha sido informada del protocolo que se aplicar� a disponer de los cad�veres, sobre todo el hecho de que, en ning�n caso, los animales muertos deben ser ni manipulado ni se destruye”, dijo el informe.

Los seres humanos normalmente contraer el �ntrax a trav�s del contacto estrecho con animales infectados o unos alimenticios que han muerto por la enfermedad. “Las especies sensibles est�n siendo vacunados.

Una intensa vigilancia epidemiol�gica se est� realizando en la zona junto con las autoridades de salud p�blica “, continu� la notificaci�n.

Los animales ser�n tambi�n ser puestos en cuarentena en respuesta al brote.

Tres cabras, ovejas y cerdos, dos tres han muerto por el brote en una granja.

Otros cinco cabras y dos cerdos han muerto en una finca independiente. �ntrax, tambi�n se utiliza como un arma biol�gica, es causada por el Bacillus anthracia bacterias formadoras de esporas, los estados de sitio web de la OIE.

La enfermedad causa �lceras oscuras en la piel de las personas infectadas cuando se contrae por exposici�n a animales infectados, y se produce en todos los continentes.

Mi�rcoles, 30 de mayo 2012 a las 21:14 (21:14) UTC RSOE