Health Officials Concerned about Cholera, Typhoid, Other Diseases

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, saying public health officials "are gravely concerned about the potential for cholera, typhoid and dehydrating diseases that could come as a result of the stagnant water and other conditions," is making available the department

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Gulf region," Leavitt said. "We are mobilizing all of our capabilities to help provide care and assistance to the victims of this storm."

The HHS Operations Center which operates 24 hours a day has been staffed up since Aug. 26 and in constant communication with state and local emergency management operations, as well as other federal departments, including Homeland Security and the White House.

The following actions have already been taken:

  • Thirty-eight Public Health Service Officers (allied health professionals) were sent to Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday for deployment into the impacted area.
  • The Strategic National Stockpile shipped 27 pallets of requested medical supplies to Louisiana. The pallets arrived this morning along with an SNS support team. These pallets include basic first aid material (such as bandages, pads, ice packs, etc), blankets and patient clothing, suture kits, sterile gloves, stethoscopes, blood pressure measuring kits, and portable oxygen tanks.
  • HHS is working to identify hospital beds throughout the affected area, and, once the storm passes, HHS will work with DOD, VA and others to move patients to these beds.
  • Through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, HHS has identified experts in chemical and toxicology, sanitation and public health, epidemiology, and food safety who are ready to respond and assist state and local officials.

The HHS web site homepage is featuring a link to public health and safety information specifically related to hurricanes at www.hhs.gov.

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