Cyclone Jasper is in our wake, but we’re well into cyclone season. Workers involved in cleaning up after storms and floods are urged to maintain good hygiene to guard against the increased chance of skin infections, diarrhoea and diseases such as leptospirosis and melioidosis.
Melioidosis is a risk for workers who have contact with mud and surface water, especially in more tropical parts of Queensland. Infection occurs when contaminated mud and water come into contact with a person's non-intact skin, and although uncommon in healthy adults, melioidosis can cause serious illness in people with underlying diseases and conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney and lung disease and impaired immunity.
Leptospirosis is a risk for workers who have contact with wet environments contaminated with animal urine, including rat urine. Infection occurs when contaminated water comes into contact with a person's non-intact skin or their eyes, mouth and nose and can also occur following immersion in contaminated water, causing a severe influenza-like illness sometimes requiring hospitalisation.
There are a few basic precautions to take to reduce the risk of infection from contact with flooded environments:
- cover cuts, abrasions and sores with a water-resistant dressing
- wear water-resistant or enclosed footwear in wet or muddy areas
- wear protective gloves if handling soil, mud or surface water
- wash thoroughly after contact with soil and muddy water
- clean wounds and abrasions.
For more information on flooding and infectious diseases visit worksafe.qld.gov.au