1030-rat-630x420Here’s a shocking fact for you: Rats, the cute, cuddly creatures you sometimes see around your city, are actually kind of gross. And to find out just how gross, researchers at New York’s Columbia University decided to do some tests, and the answer is clear: They’re dangerously gross. The researchers examined the pathogens present in 133 rats in Manhattan and found food-borne illnesses, diseases never-before seen in New York and undiscovered viruses. Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, told the New York Times it’s a “recipe for a public health nightmare.” The background: Scientists set traps in a few Manhattan buildings to catch the pests. “New York rats are a lot wilier than rats in other cities,” researcher Cadhla Firth told the New York Times. “We had to bait traps and just leave them open for a week.” Once they had their quota, they were able to extract tissue and look for pathogens. Some of the highlights include salmonella, vicious strains of E. coli and Seoul hantavirus, which had never before been found in New York. They even discovered 18 new viruses, including some that seem similar to the virus that causes hepatitis C. More