Wednesday, 15 October 2014

NYC Rats Are Reservoirs for Disease

By Megan Gannon, News Editor | October 14, 2014 06:56pm ET

The rats that dart between trashcans and crawl across subway tracks in New York may harbor some alarming diseases, according to a new study.

Rats in Manhattan are reservoirs for a suite of germs, including E. coli and Salmonella, the research found. Some of the critters were even carrying Seoul hantavirus, which can cause Ebola-like hemorrhagic fever and kidney failure in humans and has never before been documented in New York.

"Rats are sentinels for human disease," W. Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity and senior author of the study, said in a statement. "They're all over the city; uptown, downtown, underground. Everywhere they go, they collect microbes and amplify them. And because these animals live close to people, there is ample opportunity for exchange."

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