Deadly mud bacteria claims a life as Townsville flood toll rises to three
Originally published on The Guardian
Receding flood waters after Queensland’s once-in-a-century monsoonal deluge have left people exposed to a disease that has already killed one person in Townsville.
Up to 10 more people have been infected by melioidosis, a soil-borne bacteria which has been stirred up by heavily contaminated flood waters.
Dr Julie Mudd of Townsville hospital said the sick were in intensive care suffering infections in their lungs or cuts.
“Depending on where it gets in it changes the symptoms,” she told Seven Network on Wednesday.
“Initially we see acute presentation of pneumonia and septicaemia and later we see some more severe infections through cuts and it will get into the body.”
Townsville health authorities warned residents to be careful when cleaning flood-affected buildings. They advised people not to walk through dirty water, clean wounds after being in the water and wear protective clothing such as boots and gloves.
The death in Townsville takes the total flood toll to three, after the deaths of two men who died at the peak of the floods eight days ago.
Meanwhile, authorities were racing to dispose of hundreds of thousands of dead animals in the state’s west to limit the spread of disease.
Cattle, sheep and wildlife perished in the unprecedented two-week rains, which left large swathes of the state under water. Their putrefying carcasses pose a health risk to clean-up crews and to local water supplies in flooded communities.
Further south, police are still searching for a 35-year-old man who disappeared in flood waters at Groper Creek on Friday.
In rural communities, exhausted graziers are becoming increasingly concerned about the floods’ likely financial impact, which is expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Scott Morrison told parliament on Tuesday he would ensure that a recovery and restoration plan restored north Queensland cattle farmers to the prosperity.
Meanwhile, the mopping up in Townsville continues. Officials have deemed 2,950 homes damaged of the 8,000 assessed, as an appeal to help people affected has raised $3.6m. As of Tuesday, insurers had received 14,600 claims from people in Townsville with losses estimated at $175m.