Updated, Thursday, 8:30 a.m.: Floodwater from Hurricane Harvey has receded from much of Houston, but for those in areas still swamped, like
Doctors from the Infectious Diseases Society of America sent out warnings to local media as the initial downpours hammered the Texas coast with 19 trillion gallons of water, listing mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile and Zika as potential threats, as well as water contaminated by animal and human waste.
Plus, with about 4,300 people still in the city’s two mega shelters – the George R. Brown Convention Center and the NRG Center — the risk of disease spreading remains high.
“The message we need to put out is there is a risk of infection and you need to keep an eye out for yourself,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, a professor of infectious diseases
With mass flooding, fecal matter,
One rumor Ostrosky has seen circulating online is that people dealing with floodwater should take preventative doses of antibiotics beforehand. He stressed that the Infectious Diseases Society discourages that strategy and said unnecessary applications of antibiotics can lead to other side effects, like a weakened potency for those same drugs later on.
For those with cuts or scrapes who came into contact with floodwater, or people who just need to update their shots, three Houston-area FastMed Urgent Cares are offering free tetanus shot boosters from Thursday through Sunday. If you haven't received a tetanus booster in the last 10 years, have a dirty wound and not received a booster in the last five years or have touched
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Ostrosky said large outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses are less likely in the United States, but with massive amounts of standing water,
As of now, Houston’s clean water supply has been not been affected. The same A&M team that tested floodwaters for E. coli found tap water was fine for ingestion, and only a few districts in Harris County have received boil-water notices.
Essentially, Ostrosky said, residents should be smart. Many of these problems can be avoided by using common sense. That should be enough to handle the natural contaminants, even if more pollutants could be on the way.