Study: Post-Hurricane Environments Rife with Mites, Skin Disorders

Four distinct skin disorders were found in construction workers who helped repair buildings after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Dermatology. Outbreaks of skin diseases frequently occur following hurricanes and flooding, but few of these outbreaks have been thoroughly investigated, according to background information in the article.

Rebecca Noe, M.P.H., and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta analyzed the results of "syndromic" surveys conducted in New Orleans following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, and Sept. 24, 2005, respectively. The researchers studied skin biopsy specimens and the environmental exposures of 136 civilian construction workers working and living at a New Orleans military base between August 2005 and October 2005. Many of these workers lived in wooden huts and tents with limited sanitation facilities. According to the article, the surveys indicated that 22 percent of diseases treated were dermatologic conditions, including skin or wound infections and rashes.

"Of 136 workers, 58 reported rash, yielding an attack rate of 42.6 percent," the authors write. Forty-one (70.7 percent) of those who reported a rash were examined for diagnosis. Twenty-seven (65.9 percent) were found to have papular urticaria, a sensitivity reaction to insect bites resulting in solid raised bumps on the skin; eight (19.5 percent) had bacterial folliculitis, an infection causing inflammation around the hair follicles; six (14.6 percent) had fiberglass dermatitis, an irritation and inflammation of the skin from contact with fiberglass; and two (4.9 percent) had brachioradial photodermatitis, an abnormal skin reaction to sunlight causing irritation and burning in the arms.

Workers who were Native American, worked as roofers, or slept in huts that had sustained flooding during Hurricane Katrina were more likely to suffer from papular urticaria than other workers. Native American workers were also more likely to develop fiberglass dermatitis than workers of another race, the article notes.

"A suspected mite infestation of flooded housing units is the most plausible hypothesis, although we were unable to identify the arthropod source," the authors conclude, suggesting that such sources could be any of a variety of insects, spiders, and scorpions. "People working and living in post-hurricane environments where flooding has occurred may be at an increased risk of exposure to arthropods. To reduce dermatologic morbidity, we suggest avoiding flooded areas, fumigating with an acaricide [pesticide], wearing protective clothing and using arthropod repellant."

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Easy to Use Safety Inspection App

    Conduct inspections on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Complete safety audits at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data and Maintain OSHA Compliance

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus