Published: Thu, February 16, 2017
Health Care | By Jeffery Armstrong

Rat-Borne Leptospirosis Infection Kills One in NYC

Rat-Borne Leptospirosis Infection Kills One in NYC

New York Health Department officials gave the reported rat-infested apartment location a vacate order for the basement apartments for health and safety concerns.

Leptospirosis bacteria found in rat urine has killed one person in the Bronx section of New York City and infected two others there, prompting an investigation and an emergency meeting to inform residents of the danger. In severe cases, the infection can lead to kidney damage, brain inflammation, liver failure and death, the CDC said.

City officials say the cases, occurring in the past two months, are the first such concentrated cluster. According to the CDC, only about 100 to 200 leptospirosis cases are reported each year in the United States.

The health department is working with housing and building officials, as well as building owners to try to deal with rodent infestations, according to the agency. One of the infected people, a man in his 30s, died.

According to the local Health Department, two patients were diagnosed with leptospirosis in December, and another one in February.

The illness can be serious but is treatable with readily available antibiotics.

In the last ten years, NYC has seen 26 cases of leptospirosis, but the clustering of the cases makes this situation unique as the illness if very rarely passed between humans.

"This is actually in one of the department's 15 rat reservoir areas in the Bronx", Bassett said.

Leptospriosis (also called Weil's disease) is spread through rat or animal fluids, and can enter the human body through small cuts in the skin or through the eyes, nose and mouth.

The disease is rarely spread person-to-person.

Some people may have no symptoms, while others may develop a fever, a headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you can not avoid areas where rats have been seen, use a bleach solution to kill the bacteria in the aea, and protect yourself from contact with rat urine by using rubber gloves, boots, masks and some type of eyewear.

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