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Sen. Elizabeth Warren Wants To Know What Water-Borne Diseases Virgin Islanders Have Been Exposed To After The Storms


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BOSTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to request information on the spread of water and vector-borne diseases in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

See the Letter Here 

The Letter

The letter expresses concern that due to the significant damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to the islands’ sanitation infrastructure, residents are at serious risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as leptospirosis, which has reportedly been diagnosed in people in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The group also warned of the threat of vector-borne diseases such as Zika, which is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes and sand flies.

The Senators requested the following information:

  • Lists of all water- and vector-borne diseases confirmed present in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands post-Hurricane Maria and how many cases the CDC has confirmed for each disease.
  • Steps the CDC is taking to support territorial agencies such as the Puerto Rico Department of Health and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health in their efforts to test for and diagnose illnesses in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
  • The biggest public health challenges facing Puerto Rico in the wake of the hurricanes and what the CDC is doing to help assist with preventing further suffering.
  • What resources the CDC needs from Congress in order to swiftly meet the public health needs of the islands’ residents.
  • How the status of water- and vector-borne diseases on Puerto Rico compares with that on the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Others Included in Letter

Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

Pathogenic microbes that can be directly spread through contaminated water. -CDC. Humans contract waterborne infections by contact with contaminated water or food. May result from human actions, such as improper disposal of sewage wastes, or extreme weather events like storms and hurricanes. CDC. Global WASH-Related Diseases and Contaminants . Center for Disease Control.
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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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