MONDAY, Oct. 15, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- In the flooding and devastation left by Hurricane Michael, Americans faced with the clean-up are facing a new health threat: mold.
Mold-related illnesses are a serious concern following severe flooding in the path of the storm, say experts from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
"Where there's dampness and water, there's mold," said Paula Schenck, of the division of occupational and environmental medicine.
"Mold is an indicator of a whole soup of biological material. Unhealthy exposure to these bioaerosols is very possible after a flood from a hurricane and especially during cleanup efforts 24 to 48 hours after the storm," she said in a university news release.
Exposure to mold primarily affects the lungs and the skin, Schenck said. How you react to mold depends on the severity of your exposure. Some people may be more susceptible to mold-related illnesses than others, including children and those with a weakened immune system, asthma or another chronic illness.
Warning signs of mold-related health issues include:
These symptoms may not develop right away, Schenck noted. She advised doctors to be extra vigilant about educating their patients about mold risk following a storm or natural disaster.
During a post-storm cleanup, the UConn experts advised the following:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers more on hurricane safety and preparedness.
SOURCE: University of Connecticut, news release, Sept. 14, 2018