Rat bites tourist in upmarket Hong Hong district

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The Independent Online

A rat bit a British woman visiting an upmarket shopping district in Hong Kong, local newspapers reported Thursday, raising fears the attack could damage the city's reputation.

The 34-year-old tourist was visiting a shoe-repair stall in Central district's Pedder Street at lunchtime when she was bitten on the heel.

"She felt she had been stung in the left leg. She then found blood on her left ankle and discovered a rat and ran," the South China Morning Post reported.

Sing Tao Daily published a photograph of the woman being interviewed by police, with a plaster across the bite wound on her left heel.

A stallholder wielding a broomstick killed the one-foot-long (30-centimetre) rodent, reports said.

A Pedder Street stallholder told The Standard that "rats are commonplace in this alley because the (underground rail) station's rubbish collection is right here.

"But it's the first time I have seen someone bitten," said the stallholder, whose business is in a lane that borders high-end fashion and jewellery shops.

"This is where Hong Kong is supposed to be showing off to the world, and we cannot show tourists we have rats," The Standard quoted Choi Kin, a former president of the Hong Kong Medical Association as saying.

A spokesman for Hong Kong's Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said the incident was being investigated, but stressed it was an "individual case".

"Over the past 12 months, there was no rodent infestation report in the cited area," he said.

"Neither has there been any report of rodent biting people in the Central district in the past few years."