A recent study suggests that rats in New York City are carrying COVID-19, which could potentially pose a risk to humans

A new study suggests that rats in New York City may carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

There are concerns among researchers that this could lead to transmission to humans, indicating that perhaps the rats do indeed rule the city.

The study, published in the American Society for Microbiology’s “mBio” on Thursday, found that the rats can be infected with the Alpha, Delta, and Omicron variants of the virus.

“Our findings highlight the need for further monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in rat populations for potential secondary zoonotic transmission to humans,” Dr. Henry Wan, the study’s principal investigator, said in a statement.

“Overall, our work in this space shows that animals can play a role in pandemics that impact humans, and it’s important that we continue to increase our understanding so we can protect both human and animal health,” added Dr. Wan, who also serves as a professor and the director for the University of Missouri’s Center for Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In the autumn of 2021, the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cooperated with researchers to collect samples from 79 Norway rats in New York City, aiming to investigate the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission among the rodents.

Although only 13 rats tested positive for the virus, the study was hailed as the first of its kind to examine infections among US rodents. Moreover, the scientists went on to conduct a “virus challenge study” to identify the specific variants that could infect the rats.

The new study results “highlight the need for further monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in rat populations to determine if the virus is circulating in the animals and evolving into new strains that could pose a risk to humans,” Dr. Wan warned, echoing the findings of past studies.

The furry critters of “pizza rat” fame have become both a Manhattan staple and a pesky nuisance, as fed-up New Yorkers call on city officials to evict the vermin.

Mayor Eric Adams declared a war on rats last year as the vermin sightings soared into the thousands.