What's Going Around: flood-related illnesses

What's Going Around: flood-related illnesses

LAKE ARTHUR, LA (KPLC) - The water line at the Lake Arthur Health Clinic of Jennings American Legion Hospital is still evident today, more than a week after the flood waters have receded.  Fortunately water did not get inside this clinic, but that was not the case for many of these rural residents, now cleaning up and facing a new host of health threats.

"Many of our patients are still with water in their homes and they're not able to go back," said family nurse practitioner, Tina Monlezun. "Others are getting into their homes and they're beginning the clean-up process."

Monlezun says the past couple of weeks have been trying for her patients.

Now that her clinic is re-opened, she is seeing sicknesses related to the flooding aftermath.

"This water has been lying around and there's wild animals and there are septic tanks that have overflown," said Monlezun. "It's really dangerous that you could end up with some sort of GI or infection that could hurt you."

Monlezun says if water got into your pantry, you need to throw out anything that is not totally sealed.

"If you have a can and the can is intact, just wash it with soap and water, hot soap and water," she said. "Rinse it off. Pull of the label, because those labels can hold extra bacteria. If you have bottles of drinking water, those are not safe."

Here are the signs of a gastrointestinal bug:

"The biggest things to watch for: abdominal pain, diarrhea, anybody who's having any kind of low grade fever, increased nausea and vomiting," said Monlezun.

Drink lots of water and eat a bland diet while you are recovering. Go to a medical clinic if it gets worse.

Next: soft tissue wounds.  Tetanus, a serious bacterial infection, is the primary concern as people clean up.

"Be cautious that if you're cleaning up, you're wearing boots and you're wearing gloves and then clean those when you take them off and wash your hands really well," said Monlezun.

If you have not had a tetanus booster in the past ten years, Monlezun says you need it!

"You've got up to 48 hours before the symptoms of tetanus begin, but you don't want to waste time," she said.

If you have a wound that is red, irritated, oozing, and develop fever or pain, you need immediate medical care.

There is a specific vaccine for tetanus and one that protects against tetanus, along with the whooping cough.

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