Southern Brazil floods raises fears of more fatalities after the first death


Fears of further deaths are raised by the first death in the floods in southern Brazil.
Health officials warned that more deaths were inevitable after the first case of waterborne bacterial sickness was discovered in southern Brazil, where floodwaters were gradually receding.

A second fatality from the same infectious disease was reported by local media on Monday, but the health secretariat of Rio Grande do Sul state verified the death of a 67-year-old man on Monday due to leptospirosis.

According to state authorities, at least 161 individuals were killed by the water during a two-week period, and 82 are still unaccounted for. They claimed that over 600,000 individuals—including tens of thousands of people who are still in shelters—were forcibly removed from their houses.

southern Brazil
The flooding over about a two-week period killed at least 161 people, with 82 still missing, state authorities said Wednesday. More than 600,000 people were forced from their homes, including tens of thousands who remain in shelters

Because sewage combined with the floodwaters, health experts had already predicted a spike in infectious diseases including hepatitis B and leptospirosis within a few weeks of the floods.


Paulo Saldiva, a professor who studies the effects of climate change on health at the University of Sao Paulo, said, “There are those who die during the flood and there is the aftermath of the flood.”

“People will start using water from reservoirs that is not of good quality because there won’t be enough potable water.”

Over 80% of the state’s towns were affected by the exceptional tragedy, which also severely damaged vital infrastructure.

A report from the federal government’s health agency states that approximately 3,000 health businesses, including hospitals, pharmacies, health centers, and private clinics, were impacted.

“The number of people exposed to the water, along with other diseases, was somewhat expected to cause the outbreak of leptospirosis cases,” stated Carlos Machado, a public health and environmental specialist that Fiocruz assigned to monitor the flood’s effects.

“Disasters of this magnitude and with such a large exposed population are unprecedented in Brazil.”

According to Machado, despite the disruptions to basic control services, infrastructure, and health services, the local health department is striving to provide prophylaxis against infectious diseases and advice to individuals returning home on how to lower their exposure risks.

When treatment and care for chronic patients are stopped, interruptions in health services can also have a long-term effect on those who are treating chronic illnesses, according to Machado. During climate disasters, people frequently leave their homes without their identification or prescription drugs.

“The health department is making every effort to ensure that patients with chronic illnesses receive their medication,” he stated.

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