CPI+CNN Investigation: Records suggest Puerto Rico saw a leptospirosis outbreak after Hurricane Maria — but officials won’t call it that

Puerto Rico’s own records list so many cases of the bacterial disease leptospirosis that officials should have declared an “epidemic” or an “outbreak” after Hurricane Maria instead of denying that one occurred, according to seven medical experts who reviewed previously unreleased data for CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI). A Puerto Rico mortality database — which CNN and CPI sued the island’s Demographic Registry to obtain — lists 26 deaths in the six months after Hurricane Maria that were labeled by clinicians as “caused” by leptospirosis, a bacterial illness known to spread through water and soil, especially in the aftermath of storms. That’s more than twice the number of deaths as were listed in Puerto Rico the previous year, according to an analysis of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) records. “Twenty-six deaths attributed to leptospirosis — that’s extraordinary,” said Dr. Joseph Vinetz, a professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego and an expert on the disease, who reviewed the data. “There’s no other way of putting it … The numbers are huge.”

Puerto Rico’s Health Department attributed only four leptospirosis deaths to Hurricane Maria until June 22 — when it added two more after CNN and CPI asked about the 26 deaths. Officials maintained that the timing was related to laboratory tests and not questions from reporters.

Investigación CPI+CNN: Puerto Rico tuvo un brote de leptospirosis tras el huracán María, pero el gobierno no lo dice

El gobierno de Puerto Rico registró tantos casos de leptospirosis después del huracán María según sus propios récords, que debió de haber declarado una epidemia o un brote, en lugar de negar que esto ocurrió, según siete expertos en medicina que revisaron datos inéditos para el Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI) y CNN.

Puerto Rico Government Did Not Prevent Most Hurricane María-Related Deaths

Nobody has to prove to Jazmín Cruz-Corporán that the Puerto Rico government did not have a response plan for a massive public health emergency like Hurricane María. She is certain there were serious problems at the hospitals and health facilities before the phenomenon devastated the island. The woman lived her own nightmare at the Ryder Hospital in Humacao, where her father began the slow and painful path toward death. Gaspar Cruz-Agosto was admitted to the institution on Aug. 30 for diverticulitis.

Huracanes exponen décadas de negligencia gubernamental en la preparación para el cambio climático en el Caribe

Ahora el impacto concreto del aumento del nivel del mar y de las temperaturas, y los fenómenos meteorológicos extremos no son una proyección futura, sino una dura realidad. La investigación regional de CPI documentó que ya están ocurriendo inundaciones continuas, desplazamientos de poblaciones, pérdida significativa de costas e impactos sobre negocios turísticos en lugares como Puerto Rico, BVI, USVI, Dominica, Panamá, República Dominicana y Haití.

Hurricanes expose governments’ decades of negligence in Caribbean climate change preparedness

Climate change effects like rising sea-level, more rainfall and stronger hurricanes are quickly eroding the coasts of vulnerable Caribbean islands and actively destroying community life and economic activity in plain sight with little to no governmental or international action to protect citizens. Hurricane’s Irma and Maria terribly exposed this institutional neglect in Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and British Virgin Islands where infrastructure collapsed, and coastal constructions were destroyed by storm surge and erosion. Politics play an important role in lack of action and visibility of these island-colonies -and about 10 others in the region- in official world global warming efforts because their data is not considered and they are not included in their analysis.