Published: Fri, February 17, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

NY man killed by disease spread by rats

NY man killed by disease spread by rats

A rare bacterial outbreak in New York City linked to rats has infected three people, one of whom died, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The three recent cases were identified over the last two months in a one-block section of a Bronx neighborhood.

There are typically one to three cases of leptospirosis every year in New York City, health officials say. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics. This disease is a bacterial infection which usually spreads when in contact with rat urine.

People become infected by coming into contact with contaminated urine, water, food, or soil through breaks in the skin, eyes, mouth, or nose.

It is important to note that the disease is rarely spread from person to person, so it is important to talk with your veterinarian to get pets vaccinated for leptospirosis.

The city says it's reducing the rat population in the area and educating residents about the disease. Since 2006, there have been 26 cases of the infection in New York City. If these bacteria infect your body, you could develop leptospirosis, which is very rare in the U.S. In fact, there were less than 40 cases reported in America in 2015. Two patients in the outbreak were diagnosed in December and one in February. Others, however, might experience symptoms that included a fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea, the department said.

Avoid contact with rats or places where rats may have urinated.

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The reason-a rare disease known as leptospirosis, caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria that normally thrives in warm and moist environments, which is transmitted by contact with the urine of rodents (rats and mice).

"This is the first I'm hearing about it", said Bronx state Sen. While other animals can catch it, leptospirosis is most frequently spread by rodents.

The mayor's office noted that the building's landlord is accused of 79 building code violations.

People should also protect themselves while cleaning and make sure to wear rubber gloves, boots, masks and eyewear.

He continued: "750 Grand Concourse has always been regarded as one of the worst buildings in the city, with almost 1,500 complaints of all kinds, including rodents, with many unresolved".

The city routinely finds signs of rat infestation at that building, records show, and an inspection Monday showed "active rat signs".

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