NYC Man Dies from Rare Bacteria Disease Traced Back to Rats

A rare infection spread by rat urine killed one person and sickened two more in the Bronx over the past two months, city officials said Tuesday.

The city's health department has identified a "cluster of three cases of leptospirosis" in one block of the Bronx, according to a statement the department emailed Wednesday to The Washington Post.

From 2006 to 2016, around 26 case of the disease have been reported among the residents of New York City, which averages to one to three each year, during the period of 2006 to 2016.

The infection, called leptospirosis, is carried by animals and is rarely found in humans.

Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics - usually doxycycline or penicillin.

The Health Department says it is taking immediate measures to reduce the rat population in the area.

Two of the cases of Leptospirosis were identified in December, with a third case reported in February. Most of these cases are people who love water sports, like lake swimmers, divers, and rafters, because the risk of the bacteria entering your body through the mouth, nose, eyes, and breaks in the skin is higher the longer you stay in the water.

"I have to leave now, and make an appointment to come back", said a resident who has lived in the building for 15 years. One of them has died, while the other two have recovered. Others, however, might experience symptoms that included a fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea, the department said.

"We have been in contact with the elected officials in the area, we've been in contact with the city". You can find more official information on leptospirosis here. It's already rare for humans to catch leptospirosis, but person-to-person transmission isn't common either, the department says.

If you can not avoid areas where rats have been seen, or if you are cleaning areas where rats have been, use a solution of one part household bleach and ten parts water to kill the leptospirosis bacteria. The Department of Buildings alone has some two dozen open violations against the property, said Rick Chandler, the department commissioner.

Officials are holding a meeting Wednesday evening to help address the health concerns.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene advised people to avoid contact with rats or places where rats might have urinated. She's also overseeing the increased sanitation and extermination efforts in the neighborhood, including faster garbage removal and sweep rat exterminations.

  • Delores Daniels