Contaminated Water Is Pushing The Death Toll Higher In Puerto Rico

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Water-borne bacteria has led to several deaths in Puerto Rico as people wade through contaminated standing water, CNN reports.

The death count from Hurricane Maria has risen to 51 on the island after two people died from Leptospirosis, a disease caused by water-borne bacteria. More than 70 possible cases of illness have been reported. The disease can be treated with antibiotics, if it doesn’t go away on its own. In a few cases, though, the disease can cause more serious problems such as kidney or liver failure that lead to death.

A lack of clean drinking water continues to plague Puerto Ricans over a month after Maria hit. About a quarter of all households don’t have access to clean drinking water, forcing some to risk drinking from other sources such as creeks, according to CNN.

Leptospirosis is caused by water contaminated with animal urine. Puerto Rico normally records about 60 cases of the disease annually, but that number was passed in just a single month after Maria, Quartz reports.

Large parts of the island still lack electricity, which makes boiling water to kill bacteria difficult.

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