Leptospirosis, a rare infection spread by rat urine, killed one person and severely sickened two others within the past couple of months, New York City health officials said Tuesday.
“The Health Department has identified a cluster of three cases of leptospirosis on one block in the Concourse area of the Bronx. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly spread by contact with rat urine and is very rarely spread from person to person,” The Health Department said in a statement Tuesday, New York’s Pix 11 reported.
Two of the patients contracted leptospirosis in December and another was sickened as recently as the month. In every instance they became severely ill and hospitalized with acute kidney and liver failure, the Health Department said.
One of the patients died from their illness and the other two recovered, the Health Department said. An emergency meeting is scheduled to take place Wednesday in the epicenter of the outbreak, 750 Grand Concourse across from Franz Sigel Park.
“Human leptospirosis cases are very rare in New York City,” said Demetre Daskalakis, acting deputy commissioner of the Health Department.
“This is the first time a cluster of cases has been identified,” he told the New York Post.
The Health Department declined to name any of the individuals affected by the outbreak. The Post identified one of the patients as Braulio Balbuena Flores, however, who resides in basement apartment at 750 Grand Concourse.
“I had a fever,” he told the Post through a translator. “I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, whole body hurt.”
Only 26 cases of leptospirosis were reported in New York City between 2006 and 2016, according to The New York Times. The infection is spread through rat urine and typically enters the body through cuts or facial orifices such as the eyes, nose and mouth.