Understanding Infectious Disease Risk in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Authors: Margaret Carrel*, University of Iowa
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: infectious disease, flood, CAFO, hurricane
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Governors Square 16, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Increased intensity of hurricanes is predicted in the coming decades due to global climate change. A major feature of recent hurricanes has been heavy rainfall leading to unprecedented flooding. The potential impact of flooding on infectious diseases in the US is not well understood. Infectious disease outcomes could increase in the period following hurricane and flood events due to decreased access to clean water, lack of electricity and refrigeration of food, increased crowding and contact in shelter settings, etc. Also of concern is the flooding of industrial livestock facilities (CAFOS) and their waste management systems, or the flooding of agricultural fields that are fertilized with animal wastes. Within the waste products of these animals are multiple types of bacteria, many of them resistant to antibiotics. In this project, the disease outcomes of US veterans living in Texas and the flood status of their neighborhood and household proximity to flooded livestock operations after Hurricane Harvey are examined to determine if hurricane or flood exposure is associated with elevated outcomes of infectious diseases in veterans and whether exposure to flooded CAFOs is associated with greater outcomes of drug resistant infections. Given the likelihood of increased hurricane activity and flood events in the coming decades and continued intensification of livestock production, understanding how spatial patterns and rates of infectious disease outcomes are impacted by these natural hazards has critical implications for public health efforts in post-disaster settings.

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