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Health Department issues advisory on illness prevention precautions

The Kansas City, Mo., Health Department urges the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and those assisting them to take precautions against illness. In conditions such as those created by Hurricane Katrina, it is possible to become sick with illnesses such as shigella, giardia, tetanus, or diseases spread by contaminated food or water.

The easiest way of preventing the spread of these diseases is to practice good hand-washing skills. Wash your hands vigorously with warm water and soap for at least 15-30 seconds before rinsing. If water is not immediately available, alcohol-treated wipes may be used in the short term.

The tetanus booster is also highly recommended for those traveling to the affected area to provide assistance. It is important for everyone to get a tetanus booster once every 10 years, and it is especially important for those going into a high-risk area to make sure they are up to date.

Food that may have come in contact with flood water, food from damaged containers, and frozen foods that have gotten above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours should be thrown away. Water in the affected area should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute. This will decrease the spread of water or food-borne diseases.

If you or someone living at your home begins to develop symptoms of these diseases, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or high fever, and has either been in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina or has been in close contact with someone who has been there, go to your local hospital’s emergency room for treatment.

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