Story of Sydney's deadly rat virus takes dirty new turn

The City of Sydney council’s ongoing headache with rats and the deadly virus spread through their urine took an unexpected twist on Tuesday.

Surprisingly, it emerged that the council had been inadvertently directing residents concerned about the disease to a Chinese pornography website.

The out-of-date website link was included on the council’s fact-sheet about leptospirosis –– a rare disease spread through animals coming into contact with puddles infected with rat or mice urine that’s so far killed at least seven dogs in the inner-city.

City of Sydney included the link to the expired website on its fact-sheet about rats. Source: Supplied

The flyer gives information about the native rat species whose populations have ballooned in recent months due to construction and development works, before providing a website link entitled “Sydney bush rats”.

However the link, instead leads to a foreign language URL and then the Chinese pornography website which, believe it or not, contains no helpful information about the rats.

The URL which previously went to a website about rats now redirects to a Chinese porn site.

The embarrassing error has since been rectified, but not before it was noticed by news.com.au journalists.

The Sydney of City told News Corp it had “immediately removed the link from our website” and apologised to anyone who was “mistakenly redirected to that website”.

The council spokesperson added that the domain of the Sydney bush rats website had quite likely expired and been purchased by another business.

The link is still included on a number of Australian websites associated with animals and disease control.

However, despite the offending link being removed from the council’s fact-sheet, the rogue link still appears on a number of websites which had relied on the fact sheet for information.

At time of publication it was still visible on websites for several Sydney veterinary clinics as well as organisations associated with disease control and native animals.

The mistake has caused some merriment on social media with one person sarcastically saying that an “investigation was required”.

While another wrote: “perhaps this is what the council staffer was in the middle of watching, when ... [he was] rudely interrupted about a council issue”.

Yahoo News Australia has contacted the City of Sydney council for comment.

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