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Radio Shows | The Public Health Threats of Hurricanes | mp3wmawav

I know you agree with me on this, that we both enjoy living on the Gulf coast: the sea breeze and semi-tropical environment make this an ideal place to live.

Yes, but we also live with the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes like Hurricane Ike which hit us pretty hard. This storm passed directly over Galveston island with Category 2 winds and a Category 4 storm surge.

Many streets and homes were flooded and all that water ends up mixing with sewage which posed a huge public health threat. We've all seen images of people wading through chest or waist high water and it's like swimming in a toilet bowl!

What an awful image, but you're right Norbert. Right after the storm there were a number of skin infections caused by the bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus. This bacterium enters the body through breaks in the skin and can cause life threatening infections.

Sewage also carries intestinal bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and others capable of causing gastrointestinal disease and in some cases life threatening blood-borne disease.

There is also the risk of exposure to viruses such as polio and intestinal viruses.

I saw another major health hazard when I visited Galveston. The streets were littered with debris like furniture, sheetrock and carpet and they were covered with mold.

Damaged homes especially those that were flooded also had significant mold growth. Stachybotrys, the toxic house mold are present in high numbers and represent a significant health concern.

They're also hard to get rid of. Even Clorox and soap may not be enough so homeowners may have to end up removing drywall, carpeting and furniture.

Despite the widespread damage, the People in Galveston are remarkable and the city is re-emerging at a pace no one thought possible.

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For more information…

National Geographic magazines collection of photos and reports about the impact of Hurricane Ike on the Texas Coast.
For more information…

Epidemiology of Tropical Cyclones: The Dynamics of Disaster, Disease, and Development Comprehensive review article about many aspects of hurricanes and their threat to public health
For more information…

See images of how hurricane Ike impacted our university and the remarkable pace of recovery that is occurring.
For more information…

 
 

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