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17 February 2017, 12:28 | Sheila Harris
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City health officials say a rare rat-related bacterial infection has killed one person and made two others sick.
Three people in one city block in the Bronx were diagnosed with leptospirosis within the last two months, after they had become severely ill, the department reported yesterday. The Health Department noted that in New York City there are at least three new cases of Leptospirosis every year.
It is important to note that the disease is rarely spread from person to person, so it is important to talk with your veterinarian to get pets vaccinated for leptospirosis. It can be treated with antibiotics but is sometimes deadly.
NY doctors and medical providers are asking residents to report all suspected cases to the Health Department.
The bacteria can enter a person's body through the eyes, nose, mouth or small cuts in the skin. The infection thrives in warm, most environments in both rural and urban settings, officials said.
One of the people who contracted leptospirosis died and the other two have recovered, the department of health spokeswoman told Patch.
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The acting deputy commissioner of the Department of Health, Demetre Daskalakis revealed that incidents of human leptospirosis were rare.
Health officials warn to avoid contact with rats or with places where rats may have urinated. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headaches, photophobia, conjunctival suffusion, nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain - especially in the calf and lumbar areas.
Wash your hands carefully with soap and water after any contact with areas where rats may live.
To avoid becoming infected with the Leptospira bacteria that cause leptospirosis, people should wear protective clothing or footwear if they are exposed to water or soil that might have been contaminated with animal urine, the CDC said.
In December 2016, the Health Department issued multiple violations for rat "harborage" conditions at 750 Grand Concourse and ordered the building's landlord to immediately remediate the basement and affected apartments.
Roberto Lebron said he was so concerned about his 3-year-old daughter staying in the building that he sent her to live with his mother "until we figure out what's gonna happen". The city is now working to reduce the rat population in the neighborhood.
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