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Four die of leptospirosis, Brazil authorities warn of other diseases following floods

Four die of leptospirosis, Brazil authorities warn of other diseases following floods

São Paulo, Brazil – Four people have died from leptospirosis in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, which has been hit with heavy rains and flooding since the beginning of May. The victims were all men, aged between 33 and 67, who lived in four different cities and had contact with contaminated rainwater.

Leptospirosis is one of the most worrisome diseases for state authorities, as there’s a large risk of people becoming infected due to contact with flood water. The disease is caused by leptospira bacteria, present in rat urine and commonly acquired through contact with contaminated water or soil.

Leptospirosis can cause a range of symptoms in humans, from mild flu-like signs to severe illness including kidney damage, liver failure, meningitis, respiratory distress, and, in some cases, death.

“The worsening of leptospirosis is an avoidable problem if, with symptoms such as fever, lower back pain and calf pain, people immediately seek health care,” said Health Minister Nísia Trindade. In addition to leptospirosis, there are other diseases that are worrying authorities and that could affect the population after flood waters recede.

According to the minister, respiratory diseases are a major concern at this point, especially because the state suffers from strong winds and low temperatures, in addition to rain. Therefore, Trindade also suggested that Rio Grande do Sul residents be vaccinated free of charge against influenza and Covid-19.

Marcelo Gomes, a health researcher, said that the drop in temperatures in Rio Grande do Sul creates a favorable situation for the spread of viruses that cause respiratory illness. Therefore, in addition to the influenza vaccine, he recommends that people wear protective masks, especially when they are inside hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

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