From: Reuters
Published March 20, 2008 12:28 AM

Beijing launches new anti-pest campaign

BEIJING (Reuters) - Reducing Beijing's rats, flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches has been placed "at the top of the agenda" by the city's pest-control experts to ensure no outbreaks during the Olympic Games, state media reported on Thursday.

Beijing was confident of preventing and controlling outbreaks of pests during the Games, having hired U.S. experts and set up a "citywide surveillance network," Zeng Xiaotong, a disease control official under China's Ministry of Health, told the China Daily.

"Since 2005, the Beijing Loving-Motherland Sanitation Movement Committee has called on sanitation workers and Beijing residents to kill pests and improve hygiene," Zeng said.

"These efforts have broadly paid off," he said.

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Zeng said Beijing's major mosquito species was the same kind that caused a West Nile Virus outbreak that infected thousands of people and killed hundreds in the United States in 1999.

"For that we've invited experienced U.S. medical experts to Beijing to help with prevention work," he said.

China is regularly hit by outbreaks of rats and other crop-destroying rodents and often employs time-old remedies to control them.

In September, authorities set up over 1,000 eagle nests and released 200 foxes bred in captivity in its remote northwestern region Xinjiang to control a plague of plains rats.

Beijing's community-driven efforts to stamp out plague-carrying insects and rodents ahead of the Olympics have recalled the Mao Zedong-launched "Four Pests" campaign during the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s.

Pest control efforts included banging pots and pans to scare sparrows into flight and have them eventually drop to earth dead from exhaustion.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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