Sat, Jun 23, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Medics warn about post-flood injury, infections

By Lin Yi-chang  /  Staff reporter

A woman wearing flip-flops walks in a puddle on Thursday.

Photo: Lin Yi-chang, Taipei Times

In the wake of heavy rainfall brought by the combined effect of Tropical Storm Talim and the southwest monsoon, people should avoid wearing flip-flops for outdoor activities or when they are cleaning up flooded homes, as standing water on the ground could conceal sharp objects which might be contaminated with germs, doctors said on Thursday.

With the tropical storm waters having swept up a multitude of objects, still water on roadsides could contain items that can cut, as well as harmful bacteria, said Lai Chung-chang (賴重彰), chief of the infectious diseases department at Dalin Tzu Chi General Hospital in Chiayi County.

Lai said that people who accidentally cut their feet could be vulnerable to leptospirosis (also known as Weil’s disease), which can cause fevers and headaches and can be fatal.

“People are advised to put on closed footwear or rainboots to avoid direct contact with stagnant water or wet soil,” Lai said.

Meanwhile, diabetes patients should be extra cautious not to expose any body injuries to standing water, because this could leave them vulnerable to diabetic foot infections, which can lead to amputations, he said.

Patients suffering from chronic liver disease or cirrhosis of the liver should also keep their skin dry, as they could easily develop necrotizing fasciitis or sepsis if they come into contact with seawater containing the Vibrio vulnificus virus, Lai said.

Lai also advised people to wear waterproof gloves and boots or galoshes while cleaning up flooded houses, warning that any water in the home could have mixed with raw sewage from flooded gutters or septic tanks.

Hou Chung-hung (侯鐘閎), an emergency-room doctor at the hospital, said that over the past few days — as Taiwan was being battered by Talim — most trauma patients arriving at the emergency center had been injured due to slippery roads.

Hou urged people who had suffered major cuts to seek immediate medical treatment as these wounds are hard to heal and could be susceptible to infection and tissue necrosis if left untended.

In the worst-case scenario, patients might have to undergo debridement or skin graft surgery, Hou said.

Translated by Stacy Hsu, staff writer

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