Health risks for people arriving in flood hit parts of Australia

by Ray Clancy on January 21, 2011

in Australia

Health risks rise due to flooding

People planning to arrive in Queensland in the next six months, parts of which has been devastated by some of the worst flooding ever seen in Australia, are being warned about potential health risks.

Globally it has become evident that, even after the event, severe flooding has been linked to an increase in serious health associated risks, according to the Dublin based Tropical Medical Bureau.

The most recent example of this has been seen in Haiti following the massive earthquake that struck the country in January 2010, it said. A major cholera outbreak began several months later in October 2010 after excessive heavy rains compounded the damage to the public water systems following the earthquake. Sri Lanka, Philippines and India have also seen similar health related problems and cases of cryptosporidia have been recorded in part of the UK and the west of Ireland during the past years.

There have already been reports of snakes and crocodiles encroaching into new areas as the flooding extends and how the road infrastructure has been seriously damaged, it points out.

‘In the aftermath of this calamity, it is very likely that Australia will experience an upsurge in a number of diseases over the coming months directly associated with the flooding damage to water sources and sewage systems,’ said Dr Graham Fry, medical director of the Tropical Medical Bureau.

‘Risks from animal contact problems should revert to normal levels within a matter of weeks but travellers planning to visit the affected regions of Australia over the next four to six months will need to take extra care with their personal hygiene and should also increase their protection against mosquito bites,’ he explained.

Previous experience suggests that in the state there will be an increasing numbers of patients with a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses seeking medical attention but also it is very likely that there will be more reports of mosquito borne diseases such as Ross River Fever and possible Murray Valley Encephalitis from throughout the region.

Ross River Fever is a mosquito borne viral disease also known as endemic arthritis. ‘As the name suggests, patients afflicted with this illness present with significant arthritic pains along with a variety of other clinical symptoms and signs,’ said Fry.

He also said that patients with various gastrointestinal problems might be considered to have irritable bowel syndrome when in fact there may be an underlying bacterial, viral or parasitic cause.

The organisation advices people due to arrive in north eastern Australia to be aware of the need to have protection against the risk of food and water borne diseass, to protect themselves against mosquito bites and avoid all contact with animals.

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