East Harlem is so overrun with rats that one man had a disease-ridden rodent climb into his car engine and die, leaving behind an unbearable stench. Third and Lexington avenues along 103rd and 109th streets are known as a rat reservoir, meaning that the area has a chronic and consistent problem with the vermin.
Caroline Bragdon is the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s resident rat expert. She tells DNAinfo:
“What we’ve done so far is a complete block survey of the area,” Bradgon said. “We’ve identified all of the areas with rat activity or conditions conducive to rats. Now we are sending our own extermination staff out to treat the public areas.”
Those public areas include tree wells, sidewalks and catch basins, she added.
Bragdon says that 104th Street between Second and Third avenues is the most notorious region and is known among residents as “Rat City,” and that residents run to their apartments.
While the health department is engaged in a crackdown on pest in the area, Bragdon emphasizes how important it is that everyone do their part in prevention:
“The most important thing is to containerize garbage especially during the times rats are feeding; so from dusk to dawn garbage should be contained,” she said. “We also recommend also that businesses and multi-family buildings work together to keep their block clean.”
(Photo: Matthew Winterburn)