Humans More Likely to Spread Disease Than Insects in Gulf Region

Diseases that are transmitted human-to-human are more of a concern for health officials in New Orleans than diseases humans can get from insects and other animals, according to a veterinarian and epidemiologist at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Larry Glickman, professor of epidemiology and environmental health, says the threat of humans spreading diseases among humans has been underestimated. "We need to focus our concern on the diseases people will get from contact with other people who are moving from place to place," Glickman said.

During the first month or so after the flooding, mosquitoborne diseases such as West Nile present little problem because the waters will actually destroy most of the breeding areas. Mosquitoes do not feed on dead bodies, Glickman said. Diseases like cholera, dysentery or malaria are unlikely to be a problem because they were not prevalent in the Gulf Coast prior to the disaster.

"The most serious threats will be measles, whooping cough, common colds or the flu due to the unusual amount of interaction among strangers," Glickman said.

Source: Purdue University