It may be the Year of the Rat but Beijing is launching a campaign to rid the Chinese capital of the verminous rodents in time for the summer Olympic Games, authorities announced Thursday.
A rat extermination campaign will be launched from February 26, said Deng Xiaohong, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.
"Rats can spread infectious diseases like bubonic plague or haemorrhagic fever," he said, as quoted by the Xinhua news agency.
The campaign will target Olympic venues, training facilities and areas surrounding them within a 1,000 metre (0.6 mile) radius.
China last week welcomed the start of the Year of the Rat.
The Chinese lunar calendar associates each year in a 12-year cycle with an animal. The rat is the first, followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, the horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog and pig.