Rare Bacteria Found in Rat Urine Sickens Three Bronx Residents, Officials Say

Three people living on a single block in Concourse in the Bronx were diagnosed with leptospirosis a bacterial infection caused by rat urine

One person has died and two others are sick after they contracted a disease linked to the exposure of rat urine in the Bronx.

The disease is spread by humans who are exposed to rat urine and is typically treated with antibiotics, but can result in death if left untreated. Two of the patients have recovered, and one has died. Two cases developed pulmonary hemorrhage, one didn't survive the infection.

People can become infected with Leptospira bacteria when they come into contact with the urine of infected animals, or with an environment that's been contaminated with urine from infected animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two of the people were diagnosed in December and one was diagnosed in February, health officials said.

At 750 Grand Concourse, a Health Department notice warned tenants that a resident of the building was one of the three people diagnosed, CBS 2 reported.

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Leptospirosis - which the health department also described as a "bacterial disease spread by animal urine, in this case by rats (not mice)" - is pretty rare in NY, according to the agency.

Diaz also said he frequently hears complaints about rodents and rats, and not just from those who live in the Bronx.

Leptospirosis can be caught through open wounds and cuts on the skin, or through contact with eyes, nose or mouth. NEW YORK CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER NEWS CONFERENCE: Leptospirosis Precautions: - Avoid contact with rats or with places where rats may have urinated. Commons symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea.

If you can not avoid areas where rats have been seen, use a bleach solution to kill the bacteria in the aea, and protect yourself from contact with rat urine by using rubber gloves, boots, masks and some type of eyewear. You can find more official information on leptospirosis here.

In the last ten years, NYC has seen 26 cases of leptospirosis, but the clustering of the cases makes this situation unique as the illness if very rarely passed between humans.

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