Although outbreaks of infectious diseases such as typhoid and cholera are unlikely to occur after a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Health wishes to offer tips on treating an ailment that is likely to occur: stomach illness.
Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina often limit access to electricity, clean water, sewage facilities and properly stored food. In addition to these conditions, people who left the affected areas are likely living in close quarters with more people than usual and are under a great deal of stress, making it less likely that standard hygiene practices still will be followed. These factors combined can cause diarrhea illness in people recovering from a major storm.
LDH advises people who are experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and/or low-grade fever to stay hydrated, rest and practice good hygiene, particularly washing hands often in hot, soapy water, to avoid spreading the illness to others.
People who are experiencing severe diarrhea or vomiting, high fever or blood in stool, as well as babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should seek medical attention quickly.
As with all illnesses, people are advised to follow the advice of their physicians as to how they should best treat their symptoms.
For more tips on effectively treating diarrhea illness, visit the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/dguidelines.asp.
For more information on the recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina, visitwww.dhhemergencynews.com.