Melanie Bragg is undergoing blood tests and antibiotic treatment for melioidosis she caught in the Townsville flood clean-up. Picture: Liam Kidston
Melanie Bragg is undergoing blood tests and antibiotic treatment for melioidosis she caught in the Townsville flood clean-up. Picture: Liam Kidston

Disease soars in North Qld flood aftermath

HUNDREDS of flood victims are battling an outbreak of fevers, infections and health woes in the aftermath of North Queensland's one-in-500-year disaster.

It comes as almost 1000 people are still homeless, rental vacancies are almost zero and some of the 3500 families affected by the record flooding are waiting in limbo to rebuild and return home under insurance payout delays two months on.

Public health officials told The Courier-Mail latest figures on the different types of flood-related illness and confirmed cases show the "substantial" impact of the record February rain event that swamped the city.

Mosquito-borne viruses such as Ross River virus soared and two people died of the tropical disease melioidosis from contact with the contaminated floodwater that rose waist-deep in some suburbs.

 

Melanie Bragg is undergoing blood tests and antibiotic treatment for melioidosis she caught in the Townsville flood clean-up. Picture: Liam Kidston
Melanie Bragg is undergoing blood tests and antibiotic treatment for melioidosis she caught in the Townsville flood clean-up. Picture: Liam Kidston

 

New studies reveal 60 cases of Ross River virus, 19 cases of melioidosis and 45 cases of gastrointestinal cryptosporidium.

For every melioidosis case there were 15 to 20 cases of more common staph-like infections (up to 380 people) with severe illness.

Townsville gym worker Melanie Bragg, 25, is still undergoing blood tests and antibiotic treatment for melioidosis picked up in the clean-up at her family home in suburban Oonoonba.

"I've had fevers, shakes, fatigue and muscle and joint aches, and it still comes and goes,'' the mental health advocate said.

 

Lindle Hanran with her daughters Zara, 8, and Bailee, 4, in the flooded lounge room of their home in Laura Court, Deeragun. Picture: Evan Morgan
Lindle Hanran with her daughters Zara, 8, and Bailee, 4, in the flooded lounge room of their home in Laura Court, Deeragun. Picture: Evan Morgan

 

"It made me wonder how many other people got it, and how many others didn't get tested or diagnosed."

Townsville Public Health Unit's Dr Julie Mudd said public messaging during the flood event led to many potentially serious infections being detected early, preventing patients from getting critically unwell.

 

MELIOIDOSIS 650X366.jpg
MELIOIDOSIS 650X366.jpg

 

"There were no clear outbreaks as a result of the flooding; however, the health impact was still substantial,'' the public health physician said.

"As melioidosis, leptospirosis and legionella are wet-season diseases we will continue to monitor for them until the wet season is complete.

"From the heavy rains there were increases in some mosquito-borne viruses such as Ross River virus, which is carried by bush or swamp mosquitoes."

Dr Julie Mudd from the Townsville Public Health Unit. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Dr Julie Mudd from the Townsville Public Health Unit. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Dr Mudd said it was important to be aware of stress and emotional impacts that can continue to affect people over time and are not a direct result of the flood waters.

"Everyday symptoms can be exacerbated due to strain and stress and could signal more serious conditions. People should seek medical attention at their GP for any issues of concern."

Officials on Friday also issued a measles alert in Townsville after three non-flood related cases of the highly infectious illness that appears as a blotchy red rash.



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