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Waterborne disease now a risk in flood-struck Brazil

Joyce Fauth Correa is one of many Brazilians returning home after devastating floods in the south of the country. She’s overwhelmed by the sight that greets her.

“I’m destroyed, worse than a war scenario, horrible, horrible. I have no words, it’s ridiculous. You see all you achieved and all you fought for, all your history squandered. But while the damage to property is all too terrible, there are new dangers looming,” said Correa.

Authorities are warning of the risks from waterborne disease as residents return to clean up after the floods, which killed at least 169 people.

That followed heavy rains in late April, which swelled rivers and lakes in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, displacing over 580 000 people.

The disease known as Leptospirosis, spread by rat urine in still water, has become a top concern as cases have risen in recent weeks. Roberta Vanacor is the head of state health surveillance centre.

“Our major worry is leptospirosis. We’ve had an increase of cases in the last weeks to epidemiologic levels. Nowadays we have 2,300 cases under investigation. Unfortunately, we’ve had five deaths and we have nine deaths under investigation,” said Vanacor.

To meet the high demand for medical care, field hospitals and mobile teams have been set up in the state, already assisting thousands.

Residents returning to their homes may face yet more challenges however, including venomous snakes, scorpions and spiders seeking shelter from rainwater in drier places. Officials warn it’s all likely to leave lasting mental scars on the people of the area.

Source: eNCA

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