June 24, 2024

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First death from disease since floods in Brazil

First death from disease since floods in Brazil

The first death from the bacterial disease was reported in southern Brazil, where flooding is gradually receding and health officials warned more casualties could be expected.

Rio Grande do Sul state’s health secretariat confirmed the death of a 67-year-old man from leptospirosis on Monday, while local press reported a second death from the same infectious disease.

At least 161 people died and 82 were missing in the nearly two-week flood, state officials said Wednesday. More than 600,000 people have had to abandon their homes, and tens of thousands are still in shelters, they added.

Health experts predicted an increase in infectious diseases such as leptospirosis and hepatitis B as human waste mixed with the rising waters within two weeks of the flood.

“There are people who die during floods, but there are also people who die after floods,” said Paulo Saltiva, a professor at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine who studies the impact of climate change on public health. “Drinking water scarcity causes people to resort to substandard pool water.”

The disaster affected more than 80% of the state’s municipalities and damaged critical infrastructure. More than 3,000 health facilities – hospitals, pharmacies, health centers and private clinics – have been affected, according to a report by the Fiocruz Medical Research Institute published on Tuesday.

“The leptospirosis outbreak was expected because of the number of people in the water and other diseases,” said Carlos Machado, a public health and environmental affairs expert assigned to assess the impact of the floods. “We have never seen a disaster of this magnitude in Brazil, which has such a large population.”

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