Flooding leads to increased skin, respiratory and GI infections

The floodwater has receded, but chances of getting sick from it are still very high. The piles of debris once soaked with contaminated water are holding mold and bacteria and can cause you to become ill just by breathing in the mold spores.  In fact, emergency rooms all over Houston are busy with doctors seeing an increase in respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal infections thanks to floodwater.

So many rushed right in to rescue residents stranded in high water and to help save flood soaked homes.  Now after being in bacteria filled floodwater some are battling skin infections, including cases that are life threatening.

"Necrotizing Fasciitis commonly called flesh-eating bacteria where the infection really starts advancing really fast," explains Memorial Hermann/UTHealth Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Luis Ostrosky.  The doctor also says if you have a wound after being in floodwater that is red and producing puss it may be infected, so see a doctor immediately.

"It can get into their blood stream and they can get very sick requiring extra care and eventually they would need very aggressive surgery to take off the dead tissue," adds Dr. Ostrosky. 

Not everyone can make it to a doctor, so Harris County Public Health is taking treatment to them, for people and pets.

"We're offering vaccinations, health tips, how to clean up, how to be safe in the process," says Harris County Public Health Executive Director Dr. Umair Shah.

Residents, some whose homes were flooded, are arriving to the mobile clinic in droves.

"The flooring got really bad. I kept breathing all that smell.  I had to eventually open my window up.  At one point my nose got really clogged up.  So I came to get checked out," explains Pedro Casteneda.

"Mold infections can become invasive and you can have pneumonia and it can get into your blood stream," says Dr. Ostrosky.

To avoid respiratory infections doctors suggest you cover your nose and mouth while in the presence of flood soaked materials.  "Making sure you wear a mask or just something that blocks out what allergens or infectious agents that can be in the air," says Dr. Shah.   

The mobile clinic will be at Walmart on Barker Cypress in Cypress on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.