Bracing for Disaster: Irma & Harvey’s Ongoing Health Effects

Hurricane victims to face many health challenges …

(ALESSANDRA MALITO and KARI PAUL, MARKETWATCH)

Health experts warn that the troubles for those in the path of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may have just begun.

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The health and environmental effects are likely to reverberate in the area for more than a decade, said Bill Gentry, professor at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.

RELATED: Hurricane Irma: What to Know If You Have Loved Ones in Florida

The most immediate effects are already being felt, as health officials and family members struggle to get sick and elderly residents to safety.

More than 20 Texas hospitals had been evacuated and closed due to the storm. Gentry said access to clean water will be the biggest struggle, as it is required for the vast majority of procedures executed there.

Here are the health issues most likely to impact residents after Harvey and Hurricane:

Mosquitoes breeding in standing water spread disease

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water left over from hurricanes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, therefore, they breed in huge numbers. The increased presence of mosquitoes means the potential spreading of viruses like West Nile and Zika, as well as other infections such as meningitis and hemorrhagic fever.

Skin diseases from wading through contaminated water

In the wake of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, hospitals in the Houston area have seen an uptick in skin infections from wading through contaminated water, the Houston Chronicle reported. However, none of these conditions have been life-threatening. In fact, medical officials have said they are surprised at how few medical emergencies have come from the storm.

Long-term risks of anxiety, depression, and PTSD

One of the most common problems following hurricanes is anxiety, depression, and stress, Landesman said. “You have tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and lost everything,” she said. READ THE FULL STORY AT MARKETWATCH. 

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