Rats Are Back in NYC: On Your Block and At Your Table
Reported rat sightings, health inspections finding evidence of rat activity and cases of a disease spread via rat urine are all up amid the pandemic.
Brittany Brown and her friends were finishing an outdoor dinner in Chelsea recently when, from the corner of her eye, she thought she saw something move near the edge of their table.
Moments later, she thought she saw it again.
Then she made eye contact with a man sitting nearby, and he confirmed what worried her: A rat had been on the table. If that weren’t icky enough, one skittered through the restaurant shed as she left.
“It’s gross and it’s kind of unnerving,” said Ms. Brown, a copy editor who has lived in Manhattan for four years. She did not want to name the restaurant and single it out for what she considers a bigger issue.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” she said. Rodents are among New York’s permanent features. But across the city, one hears the same thing: They are running amok like never before.Through Wednesday, there had been more than 21,000 rat sightings reported to 311 this year, compared with 15,000 in the same period in 2019 (and about 12,000 in 2014). The rate of initial health inspections to uncover “active rats signs” nearly doubled in the latest fiscal year. There have also been 15 cases this year — the most since at least 2006 — of leptospirosis, which can cause serious liver and kidney damage and, in the city, typically spreads via rat urine, according to health officials. One case was fatal.
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