Rat Urine Causing Rise in Cases of Flu-Like Illness in NYC: ‘It’s a Real Problem’

New York City Mayor Eric Adams detailed plans to get trash bags off the streets, saying "plastic bags mean rodents"

PEOPLE – New York City is battling a rat problem — and Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday the city is working to address it.

“We realize that not only are rodents unsightly and can traumatize your day, but there are real health-related crises that are attached,” Adams said. “They are attached to the issue of rats. It’s a real problem.”

The bacterial illness causes flu-like symptoms, the Cleveland Clinic says. It’s caused by “getting water or soil contaminated by animal pee (urine) in your nose, your mouth, your eyes or a break in your skin.”

“It can progress to multiorgan failure with the potential for death,” the National Library of Medicine says.

For a decade, New York City had an average of three cases of leptospirosis a year, CBS News reports.

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But that number has been climbing since 2020, with 24 cases last year, and 6 cases thus far in 2024, the outlet reports.

Part of the city’s plan to handle the rat problem includes getting the plastic bags of trash off the sidewalk.

“We’re running rats out of our town. You can’t do it if you leave plastic bags on the streets. … ”


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