Major Health Risks Posed in the Aftermath of Sandy


The hurricane has passed and the damage has been done. We can at least take solace in the fact that things will settle down now, right?

As if the death toll and damages are not enough, experts are concerned about areas that suffered severe flooding, in particular New York City, and the spread of disease. ThinkStock

Dangers of fecal matter, E. Coli bacteria, flood debris, and urban contaminants such as oil, gas and trash mixing with water are very serious. Open wounds or vulnerable parts of the body such as the eyes coming into contact with flood water can create a susceptibility to infection, virus, bacteria and parasite exposure.

In New York City, many are concerned about disease-carrying rats spreading serious infections such as leptospirosis, hantavirus, typhus, salmonella, and the plague. Most of these animals lived underground prior to the storm and are now trying to reach ground level in order to survive. Their filth can be transferred through their feces, urine and saliva and can be extremely dangerous to humans.

What You Need to Know

  • Avoid exposure to any flood water. If you do come into contact, wash the affected area immediately.
  • Try to remain inside, if possible. Avoid areas impacted by the storm as there may be lingering debris or rats carrying infectious diseases.
  • Keep your kids safe – children are especially vulnerable to infections and disease. It is important to be absolutely sure that your child is not playing anywhere near flood water and/or disease-carrying vermin.
  • Immediately after the storm, boil your tap water. It is not always certain whether or not storm water has come into contact with drinking water.
  • Avoid depleting structures or areas affected by the storm. Even if a building looks safe and sturdy, you don’t know what kind of debris is hiding inside or what may collapse.

The Storm Isn’t Over Yet

Remember, even for those of you who were lucky enough to avoid any major damages and/or health issues throughout the storm -- the fight is not over yet. It is up to the citizens to prioritize their health and the health of their loved ones. Be sure to take the necessary steps to stay safe, clean and well during the aftermath of the storm.

If you'd like to help those in need, you can donate to the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief fund.

By: Jen Wolfe

For More Disaster Relief:

Crisis Intervention Strategies

Radiation Exposure

Common Health Conditions

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