Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is most commonly spread by rats. Contact with rat urine can lead to infection. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has more information about this disease.

The bacteria can enter the body through:

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Wounds and cuts in the skin

Some people who are infected may have no symptoms.

Others may experience mild illness with:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea

If you have these symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible. Tell your doctor that you may have been exposed to leptospirosis.


Learn more about Leptospirosis.

By Phone

Call 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) for help.

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid infection:

  • Avoid contact with rats or with places where rats may have urinated.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with areas where rats may live. 
  • Always wear shoes whenever taking trash to your trash compactor room.

If you cannot avoid areas where rats have been seen, or are cleaning areas where rats have been, you can:

  • Use a solution of one-part household bleach and 10 parts water to kill the leptospirosis bacteria.
  • Wear rubber gloves (especially if you have any cuts or sores on your hands or arms); you can get gloves from your super.
  • Wear boots, masks and some type of eyewear.

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