Puerto Ricans at Risk of Waterborne Disease Outbreak in Wake of Hurricane Maria

"It's like a perfect storm for leptospirosis, people are going to get sick and suffer," said one nurse who'd been on the island

Puerto Rico's continued struggles after Hurricane Maria include the rise of waterborne illnesses, which health professionals fear may grow to become an epidemic, NBC News reported.

Two of the most recent deaths came from leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that's usually spread through contaminated water, a health official told The Associated Pres, and 74 suspected cases of infection are being investigated.

The rare disease, treated with antibiotics, is transmitted through the urine of infected animals, but humans are usually infected by coming in contact with infected water. One in four people on the island still didn't have access to running water by Wednesday.

"It's like a perfect storm for leptospirosis, people are going to get sick and suffer," said nurse Llamara Padro-Milano, who came back from a relief trip to the island last week. She said nurses were encountering cases of pink eye as well.

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