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What NYC's Multi-Million Dollar 'Rat Plan' Means for Your Health

Picture of Nadia Elysse
US Editorial Team Lead
Updated: 13 July 2017
After dragging a slice of (likely) delicious pizza down grimy New York City subway stairs, “pizza rat” was dubbed a national hero. It was the kind of viral video star that makes for the best memes. But for millions in New York City, pizza rat was a symptom of a much larger problem that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon: too many rats.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan Wednesday to reduce the rat population in key areas of New York City. The targeted areas include Chinatown and Lower East Side in Manhattan, the neighborhood surrounding Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. The $32 million plan will rely on “solar compactors with rat-resistant openings” and city trash cans that will keep rats out.

Essentially, the plan is to cut off rat food sources and redirect them away from those neighborhoods.

Rats are more than just a nuisance. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rats and mice spread over 35 different diseases. Humans can contract diseases from contact with rat feces, urine, saliva, or—perhaps the most troubling—rat bites. Fleas and ticks on rodents can also transmit disease to humans. There are an estimated two million rats in New York City, concentrated in some of the city’s most populated areas. So, the rat problem is actually a public health hazard.

Photo: Pexels/Public Domain
Photo: Pexels/Public Domain | Photo: Pexels/Public Domain

For the most part, people visiting New York City have nothing to worry about as it pertains to rats. But for those living in the city’s heaviest populated (and often lower-income) areas, this plan is a definite step in the right direction.

“All New Yorkers deserve to live in clean and healthy neighborhoods,” de Blasio said, according to ABC7NY. “We refuse to accept rats as a normal part of living in New York City. This $32 million investment is a multi-pronged attack to dramatically reduce the rat population in the city’s most infested areas and improve the quality of life for residents.”