How can Hurricane Harvey impact Lyme patients?
Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc over Texas and Louisiana on August 25, 2017 and parts of Texas and Louisiana continue to be submerged under flood water. I would like to address the medical ramifications of this hurricane that is both immediate as well as long term.
Hurricane waters can displace animals and insects and so can change a local ecosystem. This can bring infections such as Lyme and associated vector borne illnesses closer to home. People should be aware that certain areas near their homes or parks that may have been free of tick and insect infestations before have now changes and intern be more vigilante when playing, working and relaxing outdoors. This means wearing clothing pretreated with permethrin (check out www.drfrid.com for your kids) spraying exposed areas with insect repellents and checking yourself for ticks after being outdoors. Specifically concentrating on warm, dark moist areas on your body such as between toes, belly button, groin, arm pits, behind ears and knees, as well as at the hair line. Please also talk to your veterinarian about protecting your outdoor pets who can bring in the insects into your home exposing themselves, you and your family to potential diseases.
Stagnant waters that will result after the flood waters recede will lead to breeding grounds for mosquitoes which will increase the mosquito population long term. Arboviruses such as Dengue, Zika and West Nile may increase two fold in the area of the hurricane path which is what happened after Katrina according to a public health expert from Tulane University. This increases one’s possibility of exposure to vector borne illnesses that are difficult to treat and are mainly managed symptomatically despite causing long term life altering ramifications in some.
Finally, increased exposure to mold. Standing waters will lead to increase mold both outside and in affected homes. This can lead to exacerbation of inflammatory and allergic type symptoms in patients who suffer with Lyme disease and co-infections as well as autoimmune disorders. These patients already have a burdened immune system, mold can tax the immune system further causing worsening of symptoms in those affected.
The three issues discussed above are not intuitive during the acute aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They are however life altering for many and should be looked at seriously and addressed promptly. To donate to the Hurricane Harvey relief fund please go to www.redcross.org
ELENA FRID, M.D. ABPN, ABCN
ADULT AND PEDIATRIC LYME EXPERT
BOARD CERTIFIED NEUROLOGIST & CLINICAL NEUROPHYSIOLOGIST
151 E 62nd, STE 1A New York, NY 10065 | T: 212-288-8832
Dr. Frid is a physician specializing in Lyme disease and sees patients with this condition - which is not universal among physicians. For more information about Lyme disease contact Dr. Frid
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