Puerto Rico investigates post-hurricane disease outbreak

Tens of thousands of islanders have left Puerto Rico for the U.S. mainland to escape the immediate aftermath of the storm. (APTN)

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - Puerto Rico is investigating four deaths in Hurricane Maria's aftermath as possible cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread through animals' urine.

The disease is not uncommon in the tropics, but the outbreak is elevating concerns about sanitation after the storm hit Sept. 20 and knocked out running water for much of the U.S. territory.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said at a news conference Wednesday that there have been 10 cases of suspected leptospirosis, four of them fatal. Two of the deaths were in Bayamon, and one each in Carolina and Mayaguez. Other patients have been treated with antibiotics. Rossello said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also investigating.

Officials have been urging islanders to avoid drinking or bathing in streams and rivers that could be contaminated by floodwaters.

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© 2017 Associated Press


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