Dangers of Heat and Disease Follow Isaac

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The immediate danger from Hurricane Isaac passed last week, but many are still in danger as 100,000 Gulf Coast residents remain without electricity on Tuesday, reported CNN.

Isaac’s official death toll reached eight on Monday after a 90-year-old man was found dead in his suburban New Orleans home, which was without electricity. High heat and humidity may have contributed to the man’s death by causing heat exhaustion, dehydration or heat stroke.

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Heat stroke is a serious risk as the muggy conditions in southern

Louisiana creep above 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week. The elderly, very young

and the sick are at particular risk, as are those doing heavy labor in

the disaster relief effort.

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DISCOVERY HEALTH: What causes heat stroke?

Heat stroke occurs when the body reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40°C) or higher, according to the Mayo Clinic. After a few hours, the condition can cause brain, heart, kidney and muscle damage. The longer a victim goes without treatment, the greater the damage and higher the risk of death. To help a victim of heatstroke move them to a cool, shaded area and apply ice packs while misting with water and fanning them.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • High body temperature
  • Flushed skin
  • Lack of sweating
  • Headache, confusion or unconsciousness

Heat stroke is only one of the threats that come from days without refrigeration and air conditioning. Food spoilage is a risk. Authorities recommend residents throw out meat and dairy after 2 hours of no refrigeration. Some medicines too will go bad without refrigeration.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals warns that flood waters could contain disease causing bacteria washed into the water from raw sewage. The organization doesn’t believe there is a major disease outbreak risk, since diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever are not commonly found in Louisiana.

IMAGE:

Hurricane Isaac on August 28, 2012 (NOAA, NASA, Wikimedia Commons)

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