By: Rodger H. Elofson, II
The flood in the Baton Rouge area left many of us with water intrusion into our homes and neighborhoods. This area has a warm, humid climate and sewage was contained in the flood waters that overflowed into many of our homes. Exposure to contaminated water can lead to water-borne diseases which are contracted by exposure through drinking or contact. The incubation period between exposure and symptoms are a few days to a couple weeks. Watch for diarrhea, abdominal pain or fever.
Luckily, cholera is uncommon in developed countries such as ours, but Hepatitis A (inflammation of the liver) can be a water-borne illness from contaminated water. The incubation period is two to six weeks. First symptoms are flu-like (fever, decreased appetite, tiredness), along with light colored stools and dark urine. Jaundice (yellowness of eyes) may develop. Treatment is symptomatic, including rest and fluids. About ten years ago, most Pediatricians started vaccinating against Hepatitis A at one year old. At Associates in Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (Dr. Elofson, Fakouri, Perilloux and Cook) have asked parents to vaccinate even their older children against Hepatitis A at their yearly check ups.
Special instructions in our flooded area:
– Wash hands well with soap and clean water, anytime after contact with flood water.
– Wash hands well before eating, especially.
– Avoid food or water that may have come in contact with flood water.
– Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.
– Wash all clothing that has been in contact with flood water.
– Clean with a disinfectant solution all children’s toys that have been in contact with flood water.
– Make sure your tetanus vaccine is up to date.
– Vaccinate your child for Hepatitis A.
– If you sustain a wound:
– clean it well with antibacterial solution or soap and clean water
– avoid exposure to flood waters
– cover wound with waterproof bandage
– if wound develops redness, swelling or drainage, see your pediatrician