While New York City is infamously known for its rats, they have been hoarding the streets like no other year. They run uncontrollably and people are speculating whether this could introduce yet another health concern to add to this year.
“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)”New York Times article, “N.Y.C. Rats: They’re in the Park, on Your Block and Even at Your Table”
From the New York Times article, in the most current financial year, the number of initial health inspections for “active rats indications” virtually quadrupled. According to health officials, there have been 15 instances of leptospirosis this year, the most since at least 2006. Leptospirosis may cause catastrophic liver and kidney damage and is commonly spread throughout the city via rat urine. One of the cases resulted in death.
While the sudden surge in erratic rat behavior is hard to conclude, experts have come up with a hypothetical reason during this pandemic. Rats had to hunt more outside when restaurants closed. Because of financial cuts to the Sanitation Department last year, gutters and street-corner baskets were packed with waste. Illegal dumping is on the rise. Residential trash increased as a result of the majority of individuals being stranded at home. The situation was exacerbated by a rainy season of summer, as well as other consequences of a warming climate that have helped rats thrive, according to health experts. According to Jason Munshi-South, an associate professor of biological sciences at Fordham University, the creatures had achieved their annual population peak in the city by October. Restaurant sheds, which aided in the survival of a business, will now be potential eating sites. Rodent playpens have previously been made in abandoned ones.
Rat sightings have become more evident in open times and places where they usually would not roam. As people enjoyed games, music, and food, rats could be seen rushing around near the bushes. The more hazardous sightings are within restaurants, where food contamination rates automatically start rising. In the case of the sheds, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade association, said that most restaurant owners had been diligent in keeping the structures clean and that they were prepared for strict sanitary measures to be imposed if outdoor dining became permanent.