The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has issued warnings to the Queensland health authorities to prepare for the rise of illnesses and injuries caused by the floods.
According to AMA Queensland president Dr Gino Pecoraro, sprains, cuts, dislocations, concussions, neck and back injuries and breaks are common after floods as people try to clean up muddy conditions. He added, “Later on down the track, we’re anticipating an increase in mosquito-borne diseases, so things like Dengue and Ross River fever… Following after that there’s the ongoing psychological burden of all this that's happened to people.” He says the peak in health pressures is still weeks away, with the crisis still unfolding.
He emphasized on adequate sanitation and clean food and water in the wake of floods adding, “We do however anticipate patients with infections to swell as food, water and sanitation continue to be compromised… Infections will vary from ingestion varieties including gastroenteritis and parasitic infestations causing vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pains to systemic infections.” He explained, “You can get a fine aerosol from water and if there are bacteria in that, then you can breathe that in and that can give chest infections, lung infections that can be difficult to treat…If anybody is finding that they’ve got fevers, shakes, or sweats or a cough or isn’t feeling well, then we do urge them to go and get checked up.”
Dr Pecoraro says doctors are also concerned for patients who have lost or are unable to access medications, or continue treatment regimes. “There are numerous cases of older Queenslanders not leaving homes or people cut off from medical support…Those people may be now in danger from sickness born from contaminated water, poor hygiene and nutrition but we are also very concerned some will lose control of illnesses because they can’t get, [have] lost or just run out of essential medication,” he added.
He urged communities to seek medical care as soon as possible when necessary and strive to protect themselves.