Garbage workers’ strikes: What are the real public health risks?

Garbage workers’ strikes: What are the real public health risks?

Since the garbage collectors mobilized against the pension reform, 7,500 tons of garbage have been lying on the streets of Paris and that is expected to continue until March 20th

A worrying situation

For the past 10 days, the streets of Paris have been looking more and more like a dump. While the mobilizations of workers in the transport sector are declining, both garbage collectors and workers in the energy sector are now facing the pension reform. Faced with this situation, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, stated that she did not want to make any demands on the striking employees because she supported their resistance. Garbage collectors have already voted to continue the strike until March 20th.

Aside from the olfactory and aesthetic discomfort, some worry about the health hazards of these tons of junk we encounter on every street corner. Elected officials such as LR 6th Arrondissement Mayor Jean-Pierre Lecoq warned Anne Hidalgo of the “health risks” of this situation. The mayor of the 17th arrondissement, Geoffroy Boulard, challenged the mayor of Paris by stating that it was possible to clean up the streets by bringing in private companies like Derichebourg.

The rat, that old enemy…

The influx of garbage that plagues our streets and cities is a rodent’s delight. Rats have never had a good reputation, they are responsible for transmitting epidemics such as the plague that have ravaged Europe. Not to mention their penchant for devouring our food, our cords, our blankets, and their nonchalant way of urinating and pooping in our homes. According to Romain Lasseur, doctor of animal toxicology, the number of rats will increase and they can transmit leptospirosis: “It is a disease that can be fatal. Of the 700 cases observed in France every year, almost 10% end in death,” confided the expert on 20 minutes.

In addition to leptospirosis, which garbage collectors and sewer workers are often vaccinated against, rats can transmit less common diseases. In particular, worms, ringworm, salmonellosis or hantavirus, which can be caught by simple contact or by contamination of their excrement, urine or saliva. According to experts, we fear an exceptional birth rate in these rodents in the coming weeks, especially if the females take advantage of our food waste.

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The veterinarian Jeanne Brugère-Picoux has already established with the media that “rats are much more numerous in cities today than two or three years ago”. Also, as it rains this weekend, rotting waste can pollute soil and water. So some advice: try to get away from the bins and wash your hands!

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