Federal assistance for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria may not be around “forever,” but an infectious component of the storm’s impact on the US territory may linger. According to reports in multiple media outlets, including the Washington Post, clinicians on the storm-ravaged island have already identified at least 10 cases of leptospirosis, a water-borne infection. Given that as many as one-third of Puerto Rico’s residents still do not have running water—some 4 weeks after Maria touched down

—it is expected that more cases of the bacterial disease will emerge as residents have been forced to stand in line for access to communal water supplies. Leptospirosis is also spread via dogs and cats, livestock, and rodents—relevant considering a report by the SunshineStateNews.com, which suggests that garbage collection has not resumed on much of the island and that there have been sightings of dead animals in the streets in some areas. All of which makes Puerto Rico a potential ground zero for a major outbreak of an infectious disease, experts say. READ MORE