Catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey increases the risk of ills ranging from skin rashes to bacterial and viral infections and mosquito-borne disease, U.S. public health officials warned on Monday.
The most immediate health risk is from drowning, especially for people trapped in vehicles, said Renee Funk, associate director for emergency management of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators is another threat. “Unfortunately, we expect there will be people who die from that and people will be poisoned from it,” Funk said in a telephone interview.
But simply wading in floodwaters could cause skin rashes because so much of the water is contaminated with toxic chemicals that get washed out of people’s garages and tool sheds.