Rat Scratches Rider on A Train: MTA

Last fall, subway workers complained that rats underground are multiplying and getting bolder, and pose a health risk to them and to passengers

Saturday, Jun 9, 2012  |  Updated 1:23 PM EDT
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A straphanger was scratched on the leg by a rat after it brazenly climbed up her pant leg while she rode the subway during Friday morning rush hour, MTA officials said.

The rat attacked Anna Vargas, 40, from Yonkers on the A train, according to a published report.

Vargas told the Daily News she was sitting on a downtown train headed to the Doubltree by Hilton hotel in midtown, where she works as a supervisor, when she felt her pants moving.

The rat then started attacking her from inside her pants.

“I said, ‘Oh, my God — it’s an animal on my leg!’ ” she told the paper.

The large rat could not be shaken out, so Vargas had to pull her pants down in front of other train riders to remove it. She said three men tried to shield her from the rest of the passengers as she attempted to shake the creature loose.

“I grabbed his head, because he was scratching me,” she said. “I didn’t want it to bite.”

Vargas was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where she was treated for scratches to her leg and thigh. The New York Post reports she was given a long list of medications, including anti-virus and anti-rabies shots. The trauma may be harder to get over.

"I don't want to ever take the subway again," she told the Post.

Last fall, subway workers complained that rats underground are multiplying and getting bolder, and pose a health risk to them and to passengers.

Workers and straphangers alike cited rat sightings not just in the subway tracks, but running across platforms, into trash rooms, and in some particularly disturbing cases, through the subway cars. 

The subway workers' union, TWU Local 100, started a campaign called New Yorkers Deserve a Rat-Free Subway, and urged commuters to sign an online petition in hopes of making a statement to the MTA.

The MTA said that supervisors would be conducting additional inspections in response to Friday morning's incident, and would bring any issues to the attention of cleaners.

"We routinely clean subway cars, station platforms and track areas of debris that may attract rodents," the MTA said in a statement. "Additionally, we use both pest control contractors and in-house exterminating forces to bait track areas and non-public station areas." 

Through periodic public service campaigns, the MTA has attempted to combat the problem by asking riders not to eat in subways or on buses, and to place refuse in proper receptacles.  

 
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