Life-threatening rat pee infections reach record levels in NYC - Living Strong Television Network
Life-threatening rat pee infections reach record levels in NYC

Enlarge / A rat looks for food while on a subway platform at the Columbus Circle – 59th Street station on May 8, 2023, in New York City. (credit: Getty | Gary Hershorn)

A life-threatening bacterial infection typically spread through rat urine sickened a record number of people in New York City last year—and this year looks on track for another all-time high, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports.

The infection is leptospirosis, which can cause a range of symptoms, including non-specific ones like fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and cough. But, if left untreated, can become severe, causing kidney failure, liver damage, jaundice, hemorrhage, bloody eyes (conjunctival suffusion), respiratory distress, and potentially death.

The bacteria that causes it—spirochete bacteria of the genus Leptospira—infect rats, which shed the bacteria in their urine. The germs jump to people through direct contact with open wounds or mucous membranes.

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