NYC faces major rat urine problem 

Health authorities have issued an advisory as cases of human leptospirosis have hit a record high 

New York City health authorities have recorded a significant rise in cases of human leptospirosis, a disease caused by contact with the urine of animals, particularly rats. 

According to an advisory issued by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Friday, six people have been diagnosed with the disease so far this year, while 24 cases were reported in 2023, marking the highest number in a single year. The authorities attribute the rise to a soaring number of rats in the city.

If left untreated, leptospirosis can lead to kidney failure and liver damage. The ailment is caused by several species of bacteria transmitted through animal urine or feces, or contaminated water or soil if comes into contact with the eyes, mouth, nose or breaks in the skin. Among the most common symptoms of the disease are a fever, headaches and chills.   

New York City has one of the highest populations of brown rats in the US. Researchers from the city’s pest control company estimated that there were approximately three million rats in the city as of August 2023, finding that the number had increased by nearly 50% in the past decade. Rats are prodigious breeders, with one pair having the potential to produce as many as 15,000 offspring in a year. 

The rise in leptospirosis infections comes a year after Mayor Eric Adams appointed Kathleen Corradi as the Big Apple’s first ever director of rodent mitigation, or “rat czar.” The position was created as part of an effort to bring down the booming rat population in the city. 


READ MORE: New York mayor appoints ‘rat czar’

As part of the effort to finally eradicate the longstanding problem, the City Council introduced a new bill earlier this week that would require the Health Department to use salty pellets that sterilize both male and female rats in two neighborhoods as part of a pilot program. 

The pellets would be deployed within so-called rat mitigation zones covering at least ten city blocks.

In their advisory the Health Department stressed that leptospira bacteria are fragile and can die within minutes in dry heat or freezing temperatures but that “excessive rain and unseasonably warm temperatures, factors associated with climate change, may support the persistence of leptospires in more temperate areas like NYC.”

Japan says Hiroshima and Nagasaki ‘must never be repeated’, silent about US role

Tokyo’s deputy UN envoy has lashed out at Russia’s “nuclear rhetoric” instead

Japan has condemned Russia for what it perceives as “nuclear threats,” recalling that it was the only country in history to come under an atomic bombing. However, it did not mention that it was the US – its current ally – that dropped the nukes.

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council briefing on Friday, Japan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Shino Mitsuko, condemned Moscow’s actions against Ukraine while lashing out at what she called “repeated nuclear rhetoric by Russia.”

“As the only country that has ever suffered atomic bombings during war, Japan will never accept Russia’s nuclear threats, let alone any use of nuclear weapons. The catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never be repeated,” she stressed, without naming the country responsible.

The US detonated two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945, killing between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. The bombing remains the only instance in human history in which nuclear weapons were used in combat. For decades, US presidents have refused to apologize for the tragedy.

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In a similar vein, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed the US Congress on Thursday, rebuking Russia for “continu[ing] to threaten the use of nuclear weapons, which has contributed to worldwide concern that yet another catastrophe by nuclear weapon use is a real possibility.” He also made no mention of the US nuclear attack on Japan.

Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s first deputy ambassador to the UN, responded to Kishida’s remarks by saying: “What a shame and disgrace.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said apparent attempts to downplay the US role in the atomic bombing of Japan and to falsely involve Russia in the narrative were “a classic example of fake news and disinformation.”

Despite speculation in the West that Russia could potentially resort to a nuclear option against Ukraine, officials in Moscow have repeatedly said that Russia would employ its atomic arsenal only if its very existence is at stake, stressing that a nuclear war must never be fought.

At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that Russia is “ready for a nuclear war from a military and technical standpoint.” He went on to rule out the use of tactical nukes against Kiev’s forces, noting that there has never been a need for such drastic measures.