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Leptospirosis Rat Bacteria Disease Linked To New Yorker's Death

Update Date: Feb 16, 2017 07:30 AM EST

New York City health officials are making sure no one else gets infected, they have issued an alert on Tuesday about the spread of leptospirosis. Two have gotten ill and one person has already died from the rare infection that has been spread by rats in the Bronx.

Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, New York City Health Commissioner said this is not an epidemic, it is an outbreak. The Health Department said the two patients were diagnosed with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that is commonly spread by contact with rat urine.

According to International Business Times here have been 26 cases of leptospirosis in New York over the past decade. The illness but can be serious, it can cause fever, chills, vomiting, rashes and red eyes, but can be treated with antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a person may fall ill in two day after getting contaminated, the infection has a sever second phase that includes kidney failure and meningitis.

The two patients were infected in December and one in February. All three persons that were affected lived within one block radius in the Concourse area. One patient, 43-year-old man from Bronx said he was feeling better, but still recovering with antibiotics according to CBS New York.

A local resident, Florence Howard said the infestation has been a problem in their building and the neighborhood for years. Howard said "My apartment is very clean but it just doesn't matter. There's just holes where they find their way in."

The city health department had stationed in the lobby of 750 Grand Concourse on Tuesday night. Representatives handed out notices to tenants warning them about the illness.

The acteria can enter the skin through open wounds, cuts, and contact with eyes, nose or mouth. Health officials said there are one to three cases of leptospirosis in New York City each year.

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