Nasty Post-Irma Health Concerns

Mosquitoes, carbon monoxide, chemicals top post-Irma concerns …


Long after the waters have receded, Americans will be grappling with the health-related effects of Harvey and Irma.

Most post-hurricane health dangers are not as easy to spot as alligators. PHOTO: Amanda Crawford WESH, Facebook

Authorities have warned residents to be on the lookout for mold in their homes, strange rashes on their bodies, stray jagged items in standing water that can lead to infected wounds, and depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

RELATED: If You Have Relatives in Irma’s Path

But there are some lesser-known health threats that Americans face. Here are some of them:

Carbon monoxide poisoning.

Generators emit odorless, colorless carbon monoxide, which poses a poisoning risk when the devices are vented improperly.

Carbon monoxide poisoning accounted for 13 percent of all hurricane-related deaths in Florida in 2005. Nine deaths after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were blamed on the gas.


Hurricane winds and storm surge can unleash dangerous chemicals, as floodwaters inundate industrial sites, overflow sewage and wastewater treatment facilities, and drench agricultural sites.

Dangerous substances can also spew into the air as a result of fires and other malfunctions. Harvey led to the release of 1 million pounds of dangerous air pollutants into the atmosphere.


Mosquitoes are expected to proliferate in waterlogged debris. The first wave of “floodwater mosquitoes” will not carry any of the nasty diseases, including Zika and West Nile virus.

“Then as conditions dry up, we will cycle out of those weeks of floodwater mosquitoes, and then begin cycling into a period of time where the disease-transmitting mosquitoes will emerge and build up,” Sonja Swiger, a veterinary entomologist.

Chronic illnesses.

A potentially larger problem for some people is the lack of access to medications and treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and kidney disease.

During Katrina, 94 dialysis facilities were shuttered because of flooding or power loss, affecting nearly 6,000 patients. Patients on dialysis need the treatment three or four times a week to keep their bodies functioning. READ THE FULL STORY AT THE WASHINGTON POST.