Next time you spot a rat, you might want to take an extra step in the opposite direction. New York City officials issued an alert Tuesday warning residents about leptospirosis, a disease spread by the critters and currently experiencing an outbreak.

Though the illness is rare, it's infected three people within a one-block radius in the Bronx borough since the end of November, killing one and adding to a total of 26 cases in the Big Apple over the past decade, according to the New York Times. And rats were likely to blame.

"Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly spread by contact with rat urine and is very rarely spread from person to person," the New York City health department said in a statement to AM New York. "This illness can be serious but is treatable with readily available antibiotics."

Leptospirosis can cause fever, chills, vomiting, rashes and red eyes, and it can come on fast — a person who comes into contact with a contaminated source may fall ill in as little as two days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infection has a severe second phase, as well, that often includes kidney failure and meningitis.

"I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, whole body hurt," Bronx resident and leptospirosis patient Braulio Balbuena Flores told the New York Post.

Authorities told AM New York that people should avoid touching rats and places rats may have peed. But that may prove difficult in the city, which has an estimated 2 million rats that in 2015 caused a record number of calls to the city's complaint hotline.

"They run from underneath your stove, your refrigerator. My apartment is very clean, but it just doesn’t matter. There’s just holes where they find their way in," Florence Howard, who lives in a Bronx apartment complex on the three-case block, told CBS New York. "Everything I wash I have to use bleach because they run around rampantly like they're part of your house."

All but one of the recent leptospirosis cases in New York City affected men. If you think you may be infected, contact your doctor ASAP.