Veronica Martinez walked into her kitchen and discovered another family had moved in.
As CBS New York reported, the New York City resident said a family of rats — a few of them “as big as cats” — was merrily running around her apartment, scampering across counters and in and out of her pots and pans.
Martinez told CBS: “I should never have to experience not one but seven rats in my kitchen. It’s disgusting. All over the stove, the washing machine, they just invaded my apartment.”
And Martinez isn’t the only resident of the apartment complex whose life has been turned upside down by the rodent infestation. Other tenants of Claremont Consolidated Houses in the Bronx agree that the rats are out of control.
“My wife can hardly sleep because you hear them in the walls,” one man told CBS New York.
Mom Asia Clemente said a rat bit her 1-year-old son and that her three children once hid in a corner of their apartment because they were so afraid of the rodents. Though she has requested a transfer to other housing, she is still waiting.
“I pay my rent,” Clemente told WPIX News. “We deserve to live like human beings.”
Another mother told CBS New York that the rats are threatening her family’s health:
“I got small kids upstairs. There’s about four of us with asthma. We can’t be dealing with this kind of condition.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), rats and rodents are capable of transmitting more than 35 diseases to humans, some of which can be fatal.
Hantavirus can be contracted by direct contact with droppings or breathing in contaminated dust. Food or water contaminated by an infected rat can cause leptospirosis. Contact with an infected rat can cause plague and rat-bite fever. Bites from infected mites or fleas (carried by infected rodents) can cause Murine Typhus, Scrub Typhus, and other diseases.
To prevent exposure to rodent diseases, the CDC recommends a “Seal Up!” “Trap Up!” “Clean Up!” approach to rat control. That is, seal up holes or any way for rats to enter the home, trap rats in and around the building, and clean up any sources of food or possible nesting sites for rats.
Tenants at Claremont Consolidated Houses said the problem isn’t helped by the fact that garbage is allowed to pile up in the courtyard. One local city council member even compared it to making families live in the sewer.
In response, the New York City Housing Authority, which manages the building, issued a statement to WPIX, promising that they would address the problem:
Since this first came to our attention, we have taken aggressive steps to address the current infestation by eliminating rodent access to the building and the apartments, which will also keep future rodents away. We apologize to our residents and will continue to vigilantly monitor this situation.
That solution can’t come quickly enough for the terrified residents. Martinez told WPIX, “I can’t sleep at night. I don’t sleep. I’m so traumatized.”