New York – New York City has reported an increase in human cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that the city reports is spread by rats.
In late September, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that 14 cases of human leptospirosis had been identified this year, more than the total number reported to the city’s health department in any previous year.
Cases with “no apparent clustering” were identified in all boroughs except Staten Island.
13 of the 14 people were hospitalized with acute renal and hepatic failure and two patients reportedly also had severe pulmonary involvement.
One person died due to the infection and all others were treated and discharged.
Three of the infected people were reported to be homeless and one person was traveling when he got infected.
Most cases had a “clear history or risk factor” that exposed them to a severe rat infestation environment, The advisory noted.
A health official reportedly told insider That last week was the 15th case of the zoonotic disease and the infected person appears to have recovered.
Celia Quinn, deputy commissioner for the department’s disease control, said the health department is conducting an inspection and working with property owners to administer rat treatments.
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Last May, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that rats were likely to become more aggressive due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department said New York City documented a total of 57 cases between 2006 and 2020.
In 2017, a Bronx neighborhood was targeted by the Department of Health after one man died and two others became critically ill with leptospirosis, including a man with the first documented case of testicular swelling associated with the disease. was the case.
Animals and pets can also fall ill, and in the same year New York issued a veterinary warning.
The Big Apple is home to millions of rats and ranks third on Orkin’s list of America’s “Rattiest Cities” after Chicago and Los Angeles.
According to the CDC, leptospirosis infection in humans occurs through contact with the urine of infected animals or other bodily fluids — with the exception of saliva — or through contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with the urine of infected animals. .
Symptoms of the disease include high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea and rash. However, some people may not experience any symptoms at all.
The time between a person coming into contact with a contaminated source and becoming ill ranges from two days to four weeks.
After the first stage of the disease, the patient may recover but becomes ill again and the second stage is more severe, causing kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and death.
The disease lasts from a few days to more than three weeks and may take several months to heal without treatment.
Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline or penicillin, which must be given early in the course of the disease.
People can reduce their risk of illness by swimming in contaminated water or by eliminating contact with potentially infected animals.
The agency noted that leptospirosis is most common in temperate or tropical climates and that the incidence of leptospirosis infection in urban children appears to be increasing.