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Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz responds to deadly rat outbreak

Posted at 8:53 AM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-16 08:53:27-05

One person has died and two others were sickened after contracting a bacterial infection caused by rat urine in the Bronx.

The three cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread by animal urine, were identified in a block of the Concourse area of the borough. Two of the patients were diagnosed in December 2016 and one in February.

It is extremely rare in New York City and it is rarely spread person to person. Since 2006, there have been 26 cases of the infection in New York City.

The disease is treatable with antibiotics. There are typically one to three cases of leptospirosis every year in New York City.

The Health Department said they are trying to reduce the rat problem in the building and said there are precautions people can take:

  • Avoid contact with rats or with places where rats may have urinated.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with areas where rats may live.
  • Use a solution of one part household bleach and 10 parts water to kill the leptospirosis bacteria.
  • Protect yourself from contact with their urine: wear rubber gloves (especially if you have any cuts or sores on your hands or arms), boots, masks and some type of eyewear.