Marikina's Catch-a-Rat for P200 Seeks to End Flood-Borne Leptospirosis

PHOTO BY Bershka

Marikina is offering residents P200 per rat caught over three days as it seeks to prevent people from catching flood-borne leptospirosis during the rainy season, its mayor said Thursday.

The "Rat-to-Cash" drive will run from Sept. 14 to 16, Mayor Marcy Teodoro said, noting how Marikina has recently recorded three cases of leptospirosis -- two construction workers and a factory employee. Data from the Department of Health showed the country had 1,770 cases of the disease so far this year.

NEWS YOU CAN USEWading Through Floods? Here's How to Prevent Leptospirosis

"Nakikita naman natin ang kapalit naman nito ang pagkawala o pagkabawas ng leptospirosis na nagpapahirap sa mga pamilyang mahirap na o pagkamatay sa ilan na napabayaan at hindi napansin ito," Teodoro told TeleRadyo.

Marikina, which sits on the banks of an eponymous river, is among Metro Manila's most flood-prone cities though developments in the wake of the epic deluge from Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009 have vastly improved warning and evacuation systems.

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Still, flash floods in many parts of the city expose commuters to leptospirosis, a disease that's spread through rat excrement that seeps through sewage.

How to catch rats for cash in Marikina?

Marikina PIO/Facebook

Marikina residents may bring rats they caught from their homes to the City Environmental Management Office, where the catch will be placed in yellow trash bins for proper disposal of what is considered to be infectious waste.

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Residents are also reminded to use gloves and mouse traps when catching rats. Those without mouse traps can borrow one from the CEMO, said the mayor.

Aside from the cash incentive, the local government also launched an information drive on leptospirosis and distributed doxycycline, a medicine to help prevent the disease's spread.

The annual event, is limited to three days to avoid the "cobra effect", where incentivizing worsens the issue, said Teodoro. The cobra effect originated in British-ruled India where the government offered bounty for every cobra, resulting in residents breeding cobras for rewards.

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