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CDC Reports on Post-Katrina Illnesses

by Kevin Caruso

October 1, 2005

The number of diseases among Hurricane Katrina survivors and rescue workers has

been relatively low to date, with only one disease outbreak (norovirus) necessitating mobilization of public health resources.

Norovirus. which causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, has been reported among evacuees in Texas. The disease is usually not very serious, and the outbreak has been relatively limited.

The CDC also reported:

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections occurred among about 30 children and adults at a center in Dallas; three of the cases were confirmed by lab tests. Cases typically show up as skin infections, such as pimples or boils, and are resistant to some antibiotics.

Six people died from hurricane-associated Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio Parahaemolyticus in wound infections -- in 24 cases of the afflication. The bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.They normally live in warm seawater and can be contracted by eating contaminated seafood or exposing an open wound to seawater.

Among rescue workers, CDC received reports of two types of infectious skin lesions common among people working in wet environments and three types of non-infectious rashes.

There were reports of diarrheal illness and vomiting among evacuees in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee, though the agency said the incidence was dropping.

One case of pertussis -- whooping cough -- was diagnosed in a 2-month-old infant rescued from a roof in New Orleans and taken to Tennessee, the disease agency said. The baby was being treated with antibiotics and people who had come in contact with the infant were being tested for the illness.

In New Orleans, one patient diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis was isolated; eight others who at first were thought to have the infectious disease were later found to have other conditions.

As of September 23, all 27 Alabamans known to have TB before Katrina struck had been identified, as had all 21 in Mississippi, the agency said. But in Louisiana, only 105 of the 147 known to have the illness had been found. Only one of the missing was considered to be contagious, though the agency said public health officials were seeking all of them to ensure they were taking their medication.


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