Bed-Stuy, Bushwick are battlegrounds in mayor's war on rats

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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT -

Bed-Stuy and Bushwick are part of a citywide effort to dramatically kill off rats in the Big Apple.

The mayor's $32 million plan aims to reduce rat populations by up to 70 percent. Rather than just poisoning rats, the city plans to destroy their habitats and deprive them of food.

"This plan is about going at the root causes -- stopping rats from having a place to live, stopping them from having the food that they want to eat," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. "It's as simple as that."

Part of the program includes increasing the frequency of trash pickups in the affected neighborhoods and installing rat-proof garbage cans.

This comes after at least three cases of leptospirosis -- a potentially deadly disease spread through rat urine -- in the Bronx over the winter. One of the cases was fatal.

The city Department of Health says leptospirosis is very rare in New York. Less than 30 cases have been diagnosed since 2006.

The plan builds on de Blasio's 2014 effort to manage rodent populations.

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