A 34-year-old British tourist was taken to hospital after being bitten by a rat in one of Hong Kong's smartest shopping districts, news reports said Thursday.
The incident made front-page headlines in some Chinese-language newspapers and set off a debate about whether the incident might harm the wealthy city's tourism industry, DPA reported.
The woman was wearing flip-flops when the rat sank its teeth into her ankle in Pedder Street in Hong Kong's Central district Wednesday, the South China Morning Post reported.
After feeling the bite, she looked down to see blood running down her ankle and a rat reportedly up to 25 centimetres long scurrying away. She was treated in hospital and discharged, the Post said.
Former Hong Kong Medical Association president Choi Kin told the Standard newspaper that he believed the incident might affect the city's image as a clean, modern city.
However, the Hong Kong Tourism Board insisted it was a one-off incident and would not have any affect on visitor numbers, expected to hit a record high of more than 30 million in 2010.
The Hong Kong government's Environmental Hygiene department told the Post 31,900 rats were caught across the city last year, up from 29,400 in 2008.