Rare Bacteria Found in Rat Urine Sickens Three Bronx Residents, Officials Say

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly spread by contact with rat urine and is very rarely spread from person to person.

For the New York City cases, health officials suspect that the people became infected through contact with urine from rats, because most cases in New York City are linked with exposure to rats or rat-infested environments, the DOHMH said. It is the first cluster of leptospirosis cases ever identified in New York City.

The three Bronx cases all occurred on the same block in the borough's Concourse neighborhood.

Some people infected with Leptospira bacteria may have no symptoms at all, according to the CDC. Others, however, might experience symptoms that included a fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea, the department said. Experts say in rare cases, patients may develop life-threatening reactions that can affect the kidney or liver. Of those cases, eight were in the Bronx, according to the newspaper. The other two people have since been released from the hospital.

Health officials said they are now trying to address the problem, and will be holding a meeting for tenants to solve it.

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. "I think that what we need to do now is educate the public on exactly what it is that leptospirosis is". "And unfortunately what we've seen over the last couple days, it's a life-and-death issue".

Despite those precautions, residents said staying away from areas where rats live is out of their control, considering the huge populations of rats in the city. City officials advise concerned residents to avoid contact with rats or places where rats may have urinated, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, use a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water to clean possibly affected areas and wear shoes and protective gear in rat-prone locations.


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