New York alert! Rats transmit new disease, could there be another pandemic?

In sewers and drains of New York a threat is generated that has everyone worried. On September 22, the New York Department of Health warned about the increase in cases of leptospirosis among some residents, a disease that can cause “acute kidney and liver failure“and” severe pulmonary involvement. ”

The authorities reported that from so far this year to that date at least 15 people have been infectedor, an unusually high figure for that territory, since between 2006 and 2020 57 cases were documented, according to official figures collected by local media. Cases have been identified in four of the city’s five districts, with Staten Island being the only exception.

How is it that people get it and what causes the disease?

According to reports, those infected acquired the disease locally, three of them declared to be street dwellers. All the sick were hospitalized. The health authorities consider that this phenomenon has to do with a “serious infestation of rats” that experience New York, since leptospirosis or Weil’s disease is transmitted through the urine of these infected animals.

The bacteria can enter the body through open abrasions or mucous membranes on the eyes, nose and mouth after coming into contact with water, mud, dirt or food that has been contaminated. What is critical about this problem is that there are an estimated two million brown rats in New York.

To prevent further spread of this disease, the local government began a census to find out which areas have the highest concentration of rodents and thus be able to control their population; Some scientists suggest that abnormal heat and humidity conditions due to climate change have probably allowed the bacteria ‘Leptospira interrogans’ prosper more easily.

What is leptospirosis and what does it cause?

According to the Pan American Health Organization, leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease with epidemic potential, mainly after heavy rains, caused by a bacterium called leptospira. Leptospira interrogans it is pathogenic for humans and animals, with more than 200 serological varieties or serovars. Humans generally acquire leptospirosis by direct contact with the urine of infected animals or con an environment contaminated by urine. Human-to-human transmission occurs very rarely.

Common symptoms of leptospirosis incluyen:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Shaking chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pains.


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