NYC officials: 1 person dies, 2 ill from rat-related disease

Image rat

A rat leaves its burrow at a park in New York City in 2015. Mary Altaffer AP file

The Health Department recently announced that three people in the Concourse neighborhood of the South Bronx were sickened with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread by rat urine that can cause flu-like symptoms or, in rare cases, life threatening kidney or liver diseases.

The cluster, or grouping of 3 patients with the illness together in one area is highly unusual, since there are generally only 1-3 sporadic cases reported per year in New York City, with only 26 cases in NYC from 2006-2016, according to reports from the DOHMH.

The Health Department says leptospirosis is spread by animal urine, and is rarely spread from human to human.

Weil's disease is not usually spread by people, and infected rats are the main carriers. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics.

Measures are now being taken to reduce rat populations in the Bronx area.

According to International Business Times here have been 26 cases of leptospirosis in NY over the past decade.

In a building in which one of the patients was diagnosed with leptospirosis, health officials said they found signs of rat infestation in the basement. The bacteria enters the skins through open wounds and cuts or through contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. While one died, the other two have since recovered.

Moreover, infected people may not develop related symptoms, but in some cases can suffer from mild illness along with fever, slight headaches, muscle aches, or diarrhea.

"It is unfathomable to me that in this day and age, in one of the most expensive cities in the world and at our most technologically advanced point as a civilization, the city can not mitigate the rat problem", Diaz said in a statement.

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

Pay attention to any wounds you have and keep them bandaged so you can help prevent them from coming into contact with leptospira.

Masked workers and rat traps were seen at the building during the day Wednesday.

Even if residents have complained several times, the super and the landlord of the building did not do anything to solve the issue.

Officials said they planned to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday night to inform the NY community about leptospirosis and just how deadly it can be, said NBC 4 News.

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