The Hays County Health Department, under the authority of Dr. Charles Anderson, recommends verification of all appropriate immunizations and specifically the following for all flood responders and victims:
· Hepatitis A
· Hepatitis B (responders only)
In accordance with the current CDC guidelines, responders should receive a tetanus booster if they have not been vaccinated for tetanus during the past 10 years. Td (tetanus/diphtheria) or Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) can be used; getting the Tdap formula for one tetanus booster during adulthood is recommended to maintain protection against pertussis.
Hepatitis B vaccine series for persons who will be performing direct patient care or otherwise expected to have contact with bodily fluids.
Flooding can cause the disruption of water purification and sewage disposal systems. Although most floods do not cause serious outbreaks of infectious disease, they can lead to sickness in people who come in contact with contaminated floodwater.
Floodwater may contain infectious organisms, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. Symptoms of common infections associated with floodwater exposure may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, muscle aches, and fever. Most cases of sickness associated with flooding are brought about by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Tetanus, however, can occur when dirt enters broken areas of the skin, such as cuts, abrasions, or puncture wounds. Tetanus is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system. The symptoms may appear weeks after exposure and may begin as a headache, but later develop into muscle spasms with difficulty swallowing or
opening the jaw. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne pathogen that is a concern for responders or victims that have direct contact with blood from other people.
Tips to Remember
Before working in flooded areas or returning to flood damaged property, be sure your tetanus shot is current (given within the last 10 years). Wounds that are associated with a flood should be evaluated for risk; a physician may recommend a tetanus immunization.
Do not use floodwater to wash and prepare food, brush your teeth, wash dishes, or make ice.
Keep an adequate supply of safe water available for washing and potable water for drinking.
Be alert for chemically contaminated floodwater at industrial sites.
Use extreme caution with potential chemical and electric hazards, which have great potential for fires and explosions. Floods have the strength to move and/or bury hazardous waste and chemical containers far from their normal storage places, creating a risk for those who come into contact with them. Any chemical hazards, such as a propane tank, should be handled by the fire department or police.
If the safety of a food or beverage is questionable, throw it out.
Seek immediate medical care for all animal bites.
If you have questions regarding these guidelines contact the Hays County Local Health Department at 512-393-5520.
Hays County Local Health Department, 401 Broadway Ste. A, San Marcos, TX 78666