Leptospirosis in Puerto Rico: More than 700 total cases since Hurricane Fiona
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Puerto Rico’s Department of Health has reported nearly 800 cases (confirmed, probable, and suspected) Leptospirosis In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona on September 18, 2022.
771 cases were reported in 74 municipalities of all health regions. The Caguas Health District with the highest number of reported cases was Caguas (164). The municipality of Caguas had the highest number of total cases reported (52). The municipality with the highest number of confirmed and probable cases was Utuado (8).
Currently, seven deaths are under investigation.
In all of 2022, Puerto Rico saw 944 cases of leptospirosis, including 14 deaths.
Leptospirosis is an acute febrile disease with diverse manifestations. Severity ranges from asymptomatic or subclinical systemic disease to self-limited systemic disease (about 90% of patients) to life-threatening disease with jaundice (yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, or eyes), renal failure (oliguria or anuria), and inflammation myocardial hemorrhage (especially pulmonary) and heat shock (organ damage).
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted through contact with water or soil that contains urine or other body fluids from infected animals. There are several types of animals that can transmit leptospirosis such as: rodents, dogs, cattle, pigs and wild animals.
This disease often affects people who work outdoors for free, with animals, or those who participate in recreational activities in which they interact with water or land such as swimming and gardening. After floods or heavy rains, all people who come into contact with flood waters or contaminated soil or fresh water (rivers and streams) can be at risk of infection.
In Puerto Rico it is considered endemic. However, in places that are constantly exposed to polluted water, the risk of infection is much higher.
Exposure associated with floods and natural disasters, which can include hurricanes and heavy rainy seasons, increases the risk of leptospirosis in the population.