New York City's rodent population is often said to extend its human population. A recent study by Columbia University verifies every New Yorker’s worst fear – that they can in fact be linked to some deadly diseases.
Scientists conclude that the city’s inhabitants are indeed susceptible to various diseases due to the presence of rats. Bear in mind, however, the rodent population far exceeds the sample of 133 rats the scientists chose to test.
The study not only confirms a linkage to already suspected diseases such as E. coli, salmonella, hepatitis and hantavirus (a deadly virus that can lead to a brain hemorrhage), but also makes a discovery of 18 unknown viruses in the city’s rats.
Some of the unknown strains are related to viruses that cause disease including Hepatitis C in human beings.
Research conducted last year by Harvard graduates revealed that in the Upper East Side almost half of the eateries showed signs of rat infestation as well as varying levels of rodent activity in other parts of the city.
The millions of rats they are surrounded by don’t faze most New Yorkers, but the report also reveals that sightings have gone up by about 10 percent since last year – and this isn’t taking into account incidents when they are not reported.
While there is no onset of the bubonic plague – something rats were credited with spreading centuries ago, the 18 unknown viruses do bring with them their own set of questions.