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Montevideo, June 23rd 2024 - 21:58 UTC



Leptospirosis taking its toll on Rio Grande do Sul flood victims

Tuesday, June 4th 2024 - 09:21 UTC
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Twelve other deaths are still under investigation, Rio Grande do Sul's Health Ministry also said Twelve other deaths are still under investigation, Rio Grande do Sul's Health Ministry also said

Health authorities in the Brazilian flood-hit State of Rio Grande do Sul Rio Grande do Sul confirmed Monday that an eighth patient had died of leptospirosis, Agencia Brasil reported. The victim was a 31-year-old man from São Leopoldo who had prolonged exposure to contaminated water.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the Leptospira bacterium that can infect humans and animals. The primary mode of transmission is through exposure to the urine of infected animals -mainly rats- or contaminated soil and water. In humans, symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, and yellowed skin and eyes. Rio Grande do Sul is recovering from a major flood caused by unprecedented rains starting on April 29 and throughout May. Floodwaters can also mix with sewage, further raising the likelihood of contamination.

According to an epidemiological report from the State Health Department, 12 additional deaths were under investigation. In total, 2,548 cases of the disease have been reported due to the floods, with 148 (5.8%) confirmed.

Symptoms of leptospirosis typically appear five to 14 days after exposure and can last up to 30 days, it was explained. People were advised to seek medical attention as early as the first symptoms were detected. In areas without accessible health services, individuals should consult any available health professional in shelters, hostels, or gyms.

In a video posted on social media, state health secretary Arita Bergmann advised the public, saying, “If you touched mud, walked in floodwater, and have symptoms of leptospirosis, seek health care immediately. There is treatment available, and we have enough medication. Don't wait at home hoping it will pass, as this could develop into a serious illness.”

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