Christian Romero shows HuffPost a photo of his late brother Romsy on 14 October 2017. The family says doctors believe he died after being infected with leptospirosis. Photo: Carolina Moreno / HUFFPOST

By Carolina Moreno
20 October 2017

CAROLINA, Puerto Rico (Huffington Post) – Christian Romero sat in near darkness in the stairwell of his apartment building. The glare from his phone illuminated his face, as he swiped through photos of his late brother Romsy.

“I feel like a part of me is missing,” Romero, 28, told HuffPost. He spoke calmly, but his eyes bore the weight of countless sleepless nights. “He was older than me by a year and three months. We literally grew up together, hand by hand, doing the same things, going to the same places.”

Romsy Romero died on 5 October 2017. His brother says doctors told the family they suspect he was infected with leptospirosis, an animal-borne bacterial disease that can be fatal if not properly treated in time.

In the four weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving the island largely without power and with limited access to drinking water, doctors fear Romsy’s case is hardly unique.

On Thursday, Puerto Rico state epidemiologist Carmen Deseda announced there are 74 suspected leptospirosis cases reported in October. The number significantly surpassed its average of 60 reported cases a year for the disease. Four of the suspected 74 cases resulted in death.

The Puerto Rican government continues to assuage public fears as they await formal confirmation of deaths related to the disease, but doctors told HuffPost the U.S. territory is ripe for an outbreak of leptospirosis and other endemic diseases on the island if more aggressive preventive action isn’t taken soon. [more]

Doctors Fear A Potentially Deadly Disease Outbreak In Puerto Rico

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