Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Scientists have warned of the possibility of an outbreak of bubonic plague in south-east Bangladesh because of the growing population of rats

The rat population has soared as they feed off the region's bamboo forests, which are blossoming for the first time in decades. Neighboring regions in India and Burma have suffered from the same problem. Bubonic plague, carried by rats, killed millions of Europeans during the Black Death of the 14th Century. Swarms of rats have been terrorizing the Chittagong Hill Tracts since they crossed over the border from India in 2007. They have destroyed the crops of about 130,000 tribal people living in this remote and impoverished region in the far south-east of Bangladesh. A panel of scientists, sponsored by the United Nations Development Program, now warns that what is known in Bangladesh as the rat-flood could also result in an outbreak of bubonic plague, unless the rapidly growing rat population is brought under control. Their report states that there is already an increasing incidence of disease and fever.

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