Cases of Leptospirosis Reported in NYC from Rat Urine


Several cases of leptospirosis were reported in New York City after contact with rat urine

If you live in New York City, be careful when you go near basements or other places that are full of garbage, since you might get leptospirosis. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) in New York has already reported of a few cases.

Trash cans, incinerators, or other garbage disposal locations pose the highest risks to get you infected with leptospirosis, since they thrive in rats, mice, or other rodents. The disease is caused by bacteria the shape of a corkscrew and are transmitted via rodent urine.

DOHMH reported three cases of infection with the bacteria which occurred over the past two months in the Grand Concourse area of Bronx. All three people were hospitalized with kidney and liver failure and one of them died.

What is peculiar is the fact that the patients formed a cluster. That is, all three cases appeared in the same area. Generally, this is quite a rare disease and only one to three cases are reported in New York per year. Reports showed that only 26 cases had occurred in New York City between 2006 and 2016.

You can get the disease by getting into direct contact with the bacteria. This might happen either through a crack in your skin or if you consume water or food that had been contaminated. You may also get the bacteria through the eyes, mouth, or nose, if you touch rat urine and then you touch your face. However, the disease cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

Fortunately, the disease produces few to no symptoms in the majority of patient. Seven or ten days after the exposure, it may develop flu-like symptoms, but it can also become a little more severe with headaches, red eyes, or skin rash.

If the disease is more severe initially, there is the risk that it might develop a second stage, which is more dangerous. This might lead to encephalitis, meningitis, pulmonary hemorrhage, or kidney and liver failure.

The main issue with leptospirosis is the fact that it is difficult to diagnose in its initial stages, since people might mistake it for a common cold. The majority of people usually improve after the seven days of flu-like symptoms but, in some cases, after a few days of improvement, the disease might develop to the second, more serious stage.

This is why people should go to the doctor immediately when they experience any symptoms so that they could treat leptospirosis and not develop complications.