AN INVITATION TO THE PLAGUE.
CHRISTCHURCH RUBBISH ASD RATS. A correspondent, signing himself "N.G.," writes as follows in reference to the Christchurch City Corporation's "tip" on the New Brighton sandhills: — There is no question but that the city rubbish heap is alive with rats. When the fire broke out afresh in 1838, hundreds of rats were seen half burnt, and ever since they have been a great nuisance in spreading the fire by making new runs and causing fresh vents for the fire. When the Heathcote Sanitation Act was enforced early tETs year, the Council garbage was disposed of elsewhere, and active measures were at once taken to smother the fire. The nuisance caused by the smoke has been almost entirely abated, a man once or twice a week being sufficient to keep it from breaking out; but the thousands of rats who have lived there since the tip was first started will very soon be driven to other places for food, and will doubtless shortly migrate en masse and cause a far greater menace to the whole colony than did the intermittent smoke that annoyed some half dozen individuals on the leeward side of the tip.
As this enormous mass has been on fire for some ten years or more without reducing it_ bulk, it would be absurd to let it burn to get rid of the rats, but strong measures should be taken, either to set to work and fire it from all sides by the aid of additional conbustib-e materials and kerosene, or else to feed the rats on some dainty foods flavoured with arsenic or other poison, or else which seems to mc impossible, make a rat-proof fence round the tip. I for one would be sorry to have to design one. The attached article from the "Australasian," on the Sydney system, comes very close home to us; and though no alarmist, I say we should be up and doing not talking, talking, for ever. It's too late to act in a clear-bedded way when the worst has happened. If one "who gives quickly gives twice, then one who acts promptly surely saves twice the time and often four times the money and anxiety. If the slums of Christchurch—for even in Christchurch there are such things—were at once inspected by a competent officer with power to act and "act at once, and the rat question systematically attended to, we shall have done our best and need not fear the plague which already has got a firm hold in Sydney, causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds and already, not content with making a gap in a family, ha 3 claimed a whole household in less time than it takes to write this. Following are extracts from the article in the "Australasian," referred to by our correspondent: — "Some of the new cases have broken out in the quarantine ground, and the Dovey family has been specially distinguished as furnishing the largest number from one household; but then when the facts are disclosed that is not very remarkable. The mother was a rag-picket* on the corporation tip, the children made this heap of.garbage their play-ground, and when taken to the North Head, their bodies on examination were found to be covered with flea-bites. At the same time it has not yet been demonstrated that the rats at the tip have contracted the disease. Up to date there •have been eight fatal cases, and one cure — supposing this fortunate invalid really to have had the disease, which some doubt. We had on Monday twelve clearly defined cases and two doubtful ones at the quarantine ground, but, after all, that is not a very Targe number, considering the number of days since the plague has been with. us. Dr Ashburton Thompson, who is anything but an optimist, cays that it is impossible to name the period within which we can count on getting rid of if. If it only attacked human beings, we could see our way to the end; but as it comes from the rats, which cannot all be caught, we fight against the bacilli at an immense disadvantage. . . "The huge heap of city garbage, known aa the Corporation tip, although hidden away so as not to be much of an eyesore, has been a nuisance and a danger for many years. The Corporation talked and talked and talked about it for a long while, then sent an officer to England especially to study the question of garbage destructors, then talked again and again and again about it, and finally did nothing. At last it has decided to make use of the tip no more, and the accumulating rubbish is to be sent ten miles out to sea. Some of the waterside municipalities protest against this course, on the ground that the filth will be washed back to the coast. But if the steamers really go ten miles out, that is hardly likely to be the case. The Bondi sewer discharges its liquid filth through an outlet in the cliff only about half a mile from the north of Bondi Bay, yet the sand of that bay has never been discoloured. Dr. Ashburton Thompson proposes to fence in the tip as it stands now, and when that has been securely done to m_ke a crusade against the rats. If it were possible to set fire thoroughly to the tip, and let it slowly smoulder, we might possibly destroy the risk from this danger which we have artificially created. -
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AN INVITATION TO THE PLAGUE., Press, Volume LVII, Issue 10632, 17 April 1900
AN INVITATION TO THE PLAGUE. Press, Volume LVII, Issue 10632, 17 April 1900
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