Every year, 100-200 people in the US contract leptospirosis, but usually 50% of the cases occur in Hawaii where outdoor adventurers are exposed to Leptospira bacteria found in freshwater ponds, waterfalls, streams, and mud. That’s why it’s so alarming that two people in the Bronx have been diagnosed with the disease and a 30-year-old man has died from it.

The bacteria that causes leptospirosis are a type called spirochetes and have the characteristic shape of a corkscrew. They are carried by animals—rats in the recent New York cases—who excrete the organism in their urine. If rats urinate in… more

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