Rats! Researchers To Test Rats To See Correlation Between Poison And Disease

Bernie Tafoya
February 07, 2019 - 11:23 am

Lincoln Park Zoo

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Scientists studying rats in Chicago are trying to raise a few thousand dollars to further their research of the impact rodents have on people’s health.

For the past year, the Urban Wildlife Institute at Lincoln Park Zoo has been studying 200 dead city rats.

As part of the research, Maureen Murray, PhD., said she wants to have a lab determine the exact amount of rat poison in their systems to figure out if the amount of poison made them more susceptible to disease.

She said people ask her why that would even matter and her reply is that, "A healthy rat means healthy people."

"If you have a rat in your home that's carrying leptospirosis, e coli, salmonella, or different bacterial diseases, you can actually catch that from the rats in your home if they're leaving droppings around in your kitchen or if they're urinating in your yard," Murray said.

"It’s important to know if rat poison increases likelihood of a rat getting sick, because that too heightens the risk for people living with rats. If rats in your home are more likely to get sick, you, too, are more likely to get sick."

Dr. Murray said previous research has found that predators, like bobcats and mountain lions, that eat poisoned rats are more likely to get sick, because the rat poison affects their immune systems.

The Urban Wildlife Institute is trying to raise $5,400 to have the rats tested for the actual amount of poison in their systems.

To donate, follow this link or go to Lincoln Park Zoo’s Facebook page.