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The Diseases Puerto Ricans May Have to Contend With After Maria
Published: October 4, 2017
(Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images))
As so often happens after a deadly natural disaster, residents in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico may have to contend with several health threats.
Good news came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week when it announced that Puerto Ricans would not have to worry about a common health threat in the wake of a natural disaster, cholera, which can lead to life-threatening diarrhea from contaminated water.
Although nearly half of residents remain without potable water two weeks after the deadly storm struck the island as a Category 5 hurricane, there were no reports of the bacteria that causes cholera before the storm hit.
"CDC does not anticipate cholera cases in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands b/c of #Maria," the agency tweeted Sunday.
"There was no evidence of cholera in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands before Hurricane #Maria made landfall," the CDC continued in a second tweet.
Although the cholera threat is low, the U.S. territory is not immune to other potentially dangerous illnesses that can be contracted through contaminated water.
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes diarrhea. The CDC says it is found on surfaces or in soil, food or water that has been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals.
Campylobacter is another disease spread through contaminated water. For most people, it causes mild to moderate diarrhea but for those with weakened immune systems, it can be life-threatening, according to the CDC.
The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, had been reported in Puerto Rico long before the storm clobbered the territory on Sept. 20. Standing water left behind by the hurricane could become a breeding ground for Zika-bearing mosquitoes, Live Science notes. The virus causes a mild fever in adults but severe birth defects in developing fetuses, the CDC says.
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