Addressing Health Related Questions from Hurricane Harvey


According to recent searches on Facebook and Google, there are plenty of health related questions that have arisen following the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Relatives and friends are worried in equal measures about what will happen to their loved ones. This article tries to answer some of the issues asked by concerned residents.
Is it possible to contract bacterial infection from the floodwater?
The answer to this question is yes. This is why health officials from Texas are anticipating a rise in gastrointestinal problems. They say that this is possible because of the stagnant water in the area that will result to increased bacteria breeding. Common bacteria that can arise at such time include Vibrio Vulnificus, Shigella as well as Escherichia coli. These are bacteria that are common in the Gulf of Mexico area. A bacteria like Vibrio Vulnificus can lead to serious infections which have resulted to amputations. This bacteria can be swallowed or can infect a wound. For instance, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 cases were reported during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Six of these cases were fatal. Winifred J. Hamilton who works at the Baylor College of Medicine as director of health services said that people who have walked through the floodwaters should act appropriately by getting rid of the clothes and shoes they wore.

Should Cholera and Hepatitis be a concern?
Chief medical officer of Houston area addressed this issue. Dr. David E. Persse said that this should not be a worry as they don’t expect a major outbreak. He said that the issue of hepatitis is not common in storm hit areas. As for cholera, it’s only an issue in the poor countries. Houston uses different pipes for house sewerage and storm water. This means that despite the sewer system being overwhelmed, the sanitary systems remained intact.
How safe if drinking water supply?
This is another issue that the residents are worried about. Health officials have responded to these concerns by releasing a statement saying that the public water supply system is intact. Potential contamination is, however, expected in areas that use small municipal water systems. People are also asking whether they can contact HIV from the floodwater. The answer to this query is no.
How about the air?
At the moment, the air conditions around the area are not quite good. While chemical plants and oil refineries have been shut down, people with recurring asthma problems should take caution.


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