Rat-Borne Leptospirosis Infection Kills One in NYC

Rat-Borne Leptospirosis Infection Kills One in NYC

Rat-Borne Leptospirosis Infection Kills One in NYC

"Two cases developed pulmonary hemorrhage and one died as a result of infection".

New York City officials have a mystery on their hands: There have been three recent cases of humans falling ill - including one fatality - with a rare disease that's transmitted through rat urine, all in the same neighborhood of the Bronx. While one person has died, the other two have recovered and are doing well, according to health officials.

People can become infected with Leptospira bacteria when they come into contact with the urine of infected animals, or with an environment that's been contaminated with urine from infected animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment should begin as early as possible to reduce the severity and duration of the disease, the DOHMH said. The disease is rarely passed from human to human and can be treated with "readily available antibiotics", according to the department of health. Experts say in rare cases, patients may develop life-threatening reactions that can affect the kidney or liver. Florence Howard, one of the residents, said, "They run from underneath your stove, your refrigerator, my apartment is very clean, but it just doesn't matter". She added, "There's a lack of concern about the building, there's a lack of concern with the super and the landlord".

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Leptospirosis gets into the body through open wounds and cuts, or via the eyes, nose or mouth, WPIX reports. Some people may not show any symptoms, but common signs of infection include fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Additionally, washing hands thoroughly after any contact with areas where rats may have urinated is recommended. You can find more official information on leptospirosis here.

The Health Department, in partnership with its sister agencies the Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and Buildings Departments (DOB), is working with building owners in the affected area to remediate rodent infestations.

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