Philippines launches cash for rats scheme amid disease fears

Manila, Sep 16 (EFE).- Locals in Marikina, a satellite city northwest of Manila, have for the last three days been able to collect around $3.5 for each rat they hunt thanks to a municipal program set to end on Friday, which is aimed at checking the spread of leptospirosis, a disease transmitted by the rodents.

Since Wednesday, dozens of people have turned up at the city council building with dead rats in plastic bags or bringing the rodents trapped in metal cages to collect the cash compensation of 200 Philippine pesos ($3.5) per head.

In the first two days of the program, residents have managed to hunt 3,737 rats, collecting total reward money of around 747,400 pesos, Marikina mayor Marcelino Teodoro told reporters.

Since a municipal order was issued on Wednesday encouraging Marikina residents to trap or kill rats, it has become common to see residents walking around on the street with up to five rats in plastic bags.

While unveiling the program, Teodoro justified the initiative citing public health concerns over leptospirosis, a disease which mainly spreads in the city during the rainy season, as it is among the most flood-affected suburbs of the Manila Metropolitan Region.

This year, cases of this bacterial infection in the Philippines have jumped by 36 percent compared to 2021.

In 2022, the health ministry has reported 1,770 cases of the disease, with 156 deaths reported until July, representing a mortality rate of around 9 percent.

Leptospirosis is spread via animal urine, especially that of rodents, and causes headaches, muscle pains and fevers, and in severe cases bleeding from the lungs. It can be successfully treated with antibiotics or dialysis, in serious cases. EFE


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