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Where do rats move in after disasters? This team finds out

researcher setting a rat trap

To help gain the trust and cooperation of New Orleans residents tired of being studied in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, researchers on an NSF-supported project worked to embed themselves in the community. With the goal of collecting rat population data to find out more about the risk of disease in a post-disaster landscape, researchers and volunteers don "Rodent-Trapping Team" t-shirts with big rat logos on the front and go door-to-door, explaining what they're doing and asking for access to yards and other private spaces.

Credit: Center for Bioenvironmental Research, Tulane University


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Michael Blum

Michael Blum, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Tulane University, serves as principal investigator in an NSF-funded project that examines the populations of rats in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, as well as the diseases the rodents carry.

Credit: Paula Burch-Celentano, Tulane Public Relations CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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resarcher in lab gear doing tests

Members of the research team tested the trapped rats, finding the rodents carried pathogens including Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can result in symptoms ranging from headache to kidney failure and bleeding from the lungs. Humans become infected by drinking or swimming in water tainted by the droppings of rodents that carry the pathogen.

Credit: Center for Bioenvironmental Research, Tulane University


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