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Preventing the Spread of Disease After Hurricane Maria

Many hurricanes can lead to a spread of disease, especially with lots of destruction of property and mass flooding. Common measures to prevent spread of disease after hurricanes include access to clean water, medicine and medical supplies, vaccinations, and hand hygiene. It is especially important to take precaution in crowded shelters. Still pools of water are major sources of spread of disease. Still water creates more breeding grounds for mosquitos which would cause a spread of vector-borne diseases. In addition, contaminated water is dangerous for people with open wounds.

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, residents are facing the spread of leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which affects animals and people. The disease causes fever and liver disease and can be fatal. The disease typically spreads through water contaminated with urine from infected animals. The disease can spread very easily because it can penetrate the skin and does not have to go through an open wound. To prevent the spread of leptospirosis, people are advised to avoid coming in contact with water the could be contaminated. However, many people cannot avoid flooded areas. For example, public health care workers must go through flooded areas to help people. A drug called doxycycline can be used as a preventive measure and can be used to treat mild cases in addition with penicillin. Also, it is recommended to take preventive measures against other diseases. For example, it is advised that people should wash their hands often, get a flu shot, and use bug spray to ward off mosquitos. With such a high demand for medicine, it is predicted that there will be shortages.

The measures taken to prevent disease is related to modeling the expected number of new cases of a disease with R0 = pk. Measures taken to reduce p are stressing that people wash their hands and prescribing preventative drugs and vaccines. Measures have not been put in place to directly reduce k through minimizing the interaction of people, but people have been advised to prevent the spread of leptospirosis by avoiding pools of water. Overall, it seems easier to reduce p than to reduce k. It is difficult to reduce k because many people are living in shelters and are forced to come in contact with pools of water. It is easier to distribute medicine and stress hand washing to reduce p. However, there is a limit to how much p can be reduced through medicine due to potential shortages. Since it seems like it is easier to reduce p, putting effort towards reducing p should have a larger effect on stopping the spread of disease, which is reflected in the effort to stop the spread of disease in Puerto Rico.

Source: https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2017-11-16/preventing-the-spread-of-disease-after-a-hurricane

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