Extreme flooding can up exposure to pathogens

September 15, 2018

(HealthDay)—Extreme flooding, such as was seen in Hurricane Harvey, can increase exposure to pathogens, according to a research letter published recently in Environmental Science & Technology.

Pingfeng Yu, Ph.D., from Rice University in Houston, and colleagues surveyed microbial communities in floodwater inside and outside residences, bayou water, and residual bayou collected immediately post-flood in Houston following Hurricane Harvey.

The researchers found that based on six-month post-flood monitoring, Escherichia coli levels were elevated in bayou water samples compared with historical levels, as were relative abundances of key indicator of anthropogenic sources of antibiotic resistance. Indoor floodwater had more abundant gene markers corresponding to putative pathogenic bacteria compared with street floodwater and bayou water. In indoor stagnant waters, there were also higher abundances of 16S rRNA and sul1 genes. In both residential areas and public parks, sediments mobilized by floodwater exhibited an increased abundance of putative pathogens post-flood.

"Overall, the epic flooding caused by Harvey temporarily shifted the local microbial landscape, increasing the levels of gene markers for pathogenic bacteria, multiantibiotic resistance, and its extent of dissemination in the flooded areas," the authors write. "Our results demonstrate that the elevated abundance of microbial contamination in stagnant indoor floodwaters and sediments increases the potential level of exposure of residents and relief workers in the aftermath of extreme floods."

More information: Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

US paves way to get 'lab meat' on plates

November 17, 2018
US authorities on Friday agreed on how to regulate food products cultured from animal cells—paving the way to get so-called "lab meat" on American plates.

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Low-carb diets cause people to burn more calories

November 14, 2018
Most people regain the weight they lose from dieting within one or two years, in part because the body adapts by slowing metabolism and burning fewer calories. A meticulous study led by Boston Children's Hospital, in partnership ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.