Puerto Rico: Leptospirosis cases linked to flooding caused by Hurricane Fiona


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On September 26, the Puerto Rico de Salud Department issued a health alert for leptospirosis:

Puerto Rico / CIA

In the face of flooding across the island due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona, the Department of Health issued a health alert regarding leptospirosis, a disease that can infect anyone who comes into contact with water contaminated with contaminated animal urine.

“Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can cause serious health conditions in the kidneys and liver, meningitis, shortness of breath and bleeding. It is a disease that can be fatal. Since last week we have issued a notice and are contacting the citizen so that they know how to prevent it, specifically to stay away from contaminated water” the Minister of Health indicated Dr. Carlos Melado.

On Monday, September 19, 2022, a health notice about the disease was sent to health facilities, to all hospitals, CDT centers, 330 centers, dialysis clinics, and a patient case management manual related to the aforementioned disease.

So far, seven suspected cases have been identified and are under investigation. A sample was taken from all patients and is waiting for the result, yet it is a fatal disease for all patients
Antibiotic treatment was started. The cases respond to four men and three females, aged between 10 and 69 years. The suspected cases are in the regions of Bayamon, Metro, Ponce, Caguas and Mayagüez.

The incubation period for leptospirosis ranges from 2 to 30 days; Most cases of illness occur 5 to 14 days after exposure. The first symptoms of the disease include: fever, headache, muscle pain, blood in the eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes), rash and cough.

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Here are some recommendations for avoiding leptospirosis:

• Do not walk, swim, bathe, dunk your head, or swallow flood water or any body of water that may be contaminated with animal urine or flood water.
• Cover skin wounds with waterproof dressings, bandages, or any other type of material that does not allow water to enter.
• If you will be driving through wrecks, wear long-sleeved clothing, cover most parts of the skin, and wear gloves, safety glasses and closed shoes.
• Do not walk outside barefoot. Wear closed clothing, gloves, or shoes with waterproof covers near water or wet ground that may be contaminated.
• Do not use flood water or bodies of water to clean the house or to wash clothes.
• Keep food and litter in closed containers and, if possible, place mousetraps
• If you feel ill and develop the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical evaluation. Early detection saves lives.

Finally, anyone showing symptoms of leptospirosis should call a health care professional immediately or visit the emergency room. “The treatment against the disease is most effective when it is started as soon as possible,” concluded the Secretary of State.

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