On September 26, the Puerto Rico Departamento de Salud issued a health alert due to leptospirosis:
In the face of the floods caused throughout the Island due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona, the Department of Health issued a health alert on leptospirosis, a disease that can affect anyone person who comes into contact with water contaminated with animal urine infected.
“Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can cause conditions of serious health in the kidneys, liver, meningitis, shortness of breath and bleeding. It is a disease that could be fatal. Since last week we issued a notice and we are making a call to the citizenship so that they know how to prevent it, specifically that they move away from contaminated waters” indicated the Secretary of Health, Dr. Carlos Mellado.
On Monday, September 19, 2022, a Health Notice was shared about the disease to health facilities, to all hospitals, CDT;s, Centers 330 and dialysis clinics and the Guide for the management of cases of patients related to said illness.
To date, seven suspected cases have been identified and are under investigation. A sample was taken from all the patients and it is waited for the result, however, since it is a lethal disease, all patients
antibiotic treatment was started. The cases respond to four men and three females between the ages of 10 and 69. Suspected cases are in the Bayamón, Metro, Ponce, Caguas and Mayagüez regions.
The incubation period for leptospirosis is 2 to 30 days; most cases of illness occur 5 to 14 days after exposure. The first symptoms of the disease include: fever, headache, painful muscles, bloodshot eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, jaundice (skin and eyes yellowish), rash and cough.
Here are some recommendations to avoid getting infected with leptospirosis:
• Do not walk, swim, bathe, submerge your head or swallow flood water or from any body of water that may be contaminated with urine from animals or flood water.
• Cover skin cuts with waterproof bandages or Band-Aids or other type of material that does not allow the entry of water.
• If you are going to drive through debris, wear long-sleeved clothing, cover most part of the skin, wear gloves, safety glasses and closed shoes.
• Don’t walk outside barefoot. Wear clothing, gloves, closed shoes or boots waterproof protective covers, near water or wet ground that may be contaminated.
• Do not use flood water or water bodies to clean the house or wash clothing.
• Keep food and garbage in closed containers and, if you can, put up rat traps
• If you feel sick and have the following symptoms you should seek immediate medical evaluation. Early detection saves lives.
Finally, a call is made to everyone who has symptoms of leptospirosis immediately contact your health care professional or visit a emergency room. “Treatment against disease is most effective when started as soon as possible” concluded the Secretary.