Georgia College grad students look to find cause of fatal bacteria in Puerto Rico

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Students look for bacteria

MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Georgia College graduate student finds out why some Puerto Rican residents got sick and died.

The student makes her thesis about the bacteria, Leptospira.

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Puerto Rico native Zamara Garcia Truitt, says as a child, she never heard of Leptospira.

“It’s neglected. One of the most neglected diseases in the tropics,” Truitt said.

This is why her thesis is on the bacteria. She hopes to find answers for people in Puerto Rico. Georgia College partnered with a University in Puerto Rico to have water samples sent over.



“Due to those flooding conditions, the bacteria were able to spread and was able to come in contact with humans and infect them,” she said.

Professor Dave Bachoon says that animals like rats, frogs, mongooses, cattle, and pigs carry the bacteria.

He says that during heavy rain or flooding water, plants and sewage systems fail. This forces people to use untreated water from creeks and rivers.

“If you were to eat any contaminated food, or drink contaminated water, or if you had cots, or even handling garbage you can pick up this pathogen,” he said.

According to Bachoon, symptoms are mistaken for the flu. Symptoms include fever, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea.

Bachoon says as global warming continues, there will be more intense hurricanes and rain in the Caribbean. As a result, there may be more cases of people being infected with the bacteria.