Fears have sparked that a "bubonic plague" could start in Australia after reports that rats have rampaged through a city.
Residents have been hit with a "widespread" infestation in Mount Isla, Queensland, with authorities issuing an alert over poor food waste and oil disposal.
The two factors have been named as the major cause of the rapidly growing rat population as officials call out hospitality businesses to ensure they have the correct rodent control.
Mount Isa City Council Environmental Services coordinator Maurice Thompson said the infestation needs to be contained as soon as possible.
"It could get to the stage where we've got a rat plague and we don't want to get to that stage," he said.
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"We've got some businesses catching 12 to 15 rats a day."
However, hospitality venues are not the only cause behind the major infestation, reports ABC.
"Residents have a role to play in this as well. Overgrown yards are also harbouring these mice and rats," Thompson added.
"This is not just one business; this is a community problem."
Professor Bob Doneley, head of avian and exotic pet medicine at the University of Queensland, said any spike in the rat population was usually linked to food.
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He warned that while rats are quite clean creatures, there is a possibility that they could spread diseases such as leptospirosis, Hanta Virus, and bubonic plague.
"It's one of the reasons cane farmers burn cane instead of hand cutting it — because cane farmers would be exposed to rat urine," he added.
"Rats will often carry fleas which can also carry infectious diseases like the bubonic plague."
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