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Hurricane Maria death toll rises to 49 in Puerto Rico 

By on October 20, 2017

People line up to refill drinking water. (Juan José Rodríguez / CB)

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello says the death toll from Hurricane Maria has risen to 49 in the U.S. territory after officials confirmed a death from a bacterial disease that spreads through animals’ urine.

The governor did not identify the victim. Medical officials said the person died from leptospirosis. They are investigating at least 74 other suspected cases of the disease.

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The illness is not uncommon in the tropics, particularly after heavy rains or floods. But the outbreak is elevating concerns about sanitation after the storm knocked out running water for much of the territory for weeks. About 30 percent of the island remained without water as of Friday.

Rossello said symptoms can be confused with those of other illnesses, including dengue. He urged patients to seek treatment with antibiotics.

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