The Bishkek bite

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Smell a super rat? The streets of Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyztan, are unsafe. Hundreds of incidents of rat bites have been reported across the Central Asian republic. The menace is from super rats that are as big as cats, fearless, and immune to pesticides -- some scientists have reported that they actually thrive on traditional poisons. The rodents are descendants of albino rats (Rattus norvegicus), used in laboratories during the Soviet era, that escaped and bred with wild rats.

Seen in large groups on the streets of Bishkek, the rats can produce offspring (litters of about 10) at the age of three months. The large rubbish dumps around the city bazaars are ideal breeding and feeding grounds. In one year, the city has reported more than 500 cases of rat bites.

"We have no figures for rural areas. People there don't go to doctors. The rat situation is now very bad as they carry rabies and other fatal diseases," Anara Alymkulova, senior lecturer at Kyrgyzstan's Agrarian University, told the Integrated Regional Information Network of the United Nations.

The rats in Bishkek have been found to carry rabies, the epidemiological department has reported. Rat bites can infect humans with rabies, which has a very high mortality rate. The pests are also carriers of other contagious diseases like plague, Japanese encephalitis and acute intestinal infection.

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