NYC faces major rat urine problem  — RT World News

Health authorities issued a warning as human leptospirosis cases reached a record high

Health authorities in New York City have recorded a significant increase in cases of human leptospirosis, a disease caused by contact with the urine of animals, especially mice.

According to an advisory issued by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Friday, six people have been diagnosed with the disease so far this year, while 24 cases have been reported in 2023, the highest number in a single year. The authorities attribute this rise to the increasing number of rats in the city.

If left untreated, leptospirosis can lead to kidney failure and liver damage. The disease is caused by several types of bacteria that are transmitted through animal urine or feces, or contaminated water or soil if it comes into contact with the eyes, mouth, nose, or cracks in the skin. The most common symptoms of the disease include fever, headache and chills.

New York City has one of the highest brown rat populations in the United States. Researchers from the city's pest control company estimated there were nearly three million rats in the city as of August 2023, and found that the number had increased by nearly 50% in the past decade. Mice are amazing reproductive animals, with one pair having the ability to produce up to 15,000 offspring per year.

The rise in leptospirosis cases comes a year after Mayor Eric Adams appointed Kathleen Corradi as the Big Apple's first-ever director of rodent mitigation, or “Rat magic.” The position was created as part of efforts to eradicate the city's thriving rat population.

As part of an effort to permanently eliminate the long-standing problem, the City Council introduced a new bill earlier this week that would require the health department to use salt pellets that sterilize male and female mice in two areas as part of a pilot program.

The pellets will be spread within so-called rat mitigation zones covering at least ten city blocks.

The Ministry of Health stressed in its warning that leptospirosis bacteria are fragile and can die within minutes in dry heat or freezing temperatures, but that “Heavy rain, unusually warm temperatures, and factors associated with climate change, may support the persistence of leptospirosis in more temperate regions such as New York City.”

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