Waweig – A Waweig woman is undergoing precautionary treatments for rabies, after she was bitten by a rat in her barn Tuesday, around lunchtime.
The large rat was lying face down, motionless in Christine Lannaman’s barn.
She picked it up by the tail, intending to dispose of it.
“I just didn’t think. I saw it dead,” she said when asked why she picked it up.
“I started to walk down the alleyway. It was heavy, big, the biggest rat I’ve ever seen,” said Lannaman.
“At some point, while I’m walking, it swung up and bit me. I dropped it. It started running in scallops and half circles, which is odd.”
Lannaman said the rat scooted into a hole in the wall.
She said she put her hand into the hole to try and pull the rat out.
“I was mad at that point.” She did not retrieve the rat.
Lannaman sustained a gash from the rat’s teeth on the knuckle of the forefinger on her right hand, and scratches from the rat’s claw on her ring finger.
The girth of the rat leads Lannaman to believe it might have been pregnant.
Lannaman went to the Charlotte County Hospital where she was immediately seen and treated with injections – two into the site of the wound, and two in her shoulder – as a precautionary measure. “We’re at ground zero for rabies.”
She said when she saw the doctor, she was told “oh yes, you’re having a rabies shot.”
“He said he wasn’t taking a chance,” said Lannaman. She received another injection Thursday, and is scheduled for several more in the very near future.
Lannaman said she has lived in the area for 10 years, and has never before had a rat problem. Neither have her neighbours. Yet, recently, one friend who lives in a nearby ridge has killed 44 rats in just one week. Another friend had to bring in an exterminator to be rid of the rodents.
She believes the problem in her area began when a trailer down the road caught fire. The rodents may have been there, and moved on to search for new lodgings.
Lannaman has been putting rat poison down in
her barn at night for about a week, once she brings her six cats and two dogs indoors. So far she’s spent about $150, $25 a box for the Warfarin, which she has to buy in Calais.
She has also set traps. “They’ve taken the traps away, they’ve sprung the traps. I don’t know what else to do. It’s really not fun. It’s a bother, and I’m worried about disease,” said Lannaman.
Lannaman said the rat problem is not confined to rural areas.
“It’s everywhere, even in St. Stephen.”
She said she’s spoken to a woman who works at one of the larger stores in the town. “They have a video camera in the yard and she said the parking lot is full of rats at night.”
Another friend who lives in St. Stephen by the international bridge crossing downtown walks her dog at night. The woman sees rats in her backyard all the time, said Lannaman.
“This is bigger than the homeowner. I have spoken to at least 25 people who have rats who have never had rats before. They’re hard to get rid of, and they breed like crazy.”
Lannaman said hiring an exterminator would be expensive. She wonders if the government could help with the rat problem, since it seems to encompass the province, not just a few farms in Waweig.
She cited a case in Moncton where a man was bitten three times by rats, and has viewed posts voicing concern over the large number of rodents infesting properties on several online Maritime farming sites.
Lannaman thinks the government has to take notice and step in to help resolve the problem.
Her home is in the riding of Saint Croix MLA John Ames. Thursday morning Ames said he had reached out to the Department of Agriculture as well as the Department of Public Safety for information on how to deal with the rat problem, on behalf of Lannaman and other farmers in the area.
“We will do what we can to work with them, and find a solution,” he stated.
Besides contacting him with their concerns, Ames recommended people contact the 811 rabies contact line for information which might be helpful.