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Australian health experts warn of disease, psychological harm after floods

01-18-2011 15:51 BJT

CANBERRA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Australian health experts on Tuesday warned of the risk of disease and psychological harm that will remain long after the nation's floodwaters recede.

While the environmental disaster shifts into the clean-up phase in Queensland, which went through the worst floods in history, waters are still rising in 41 of Victorian towns.

Dr. Robert Hall, a senior research fellow at Monash University in Australia, said the floods pose much more than a drowning threat.

"For me there are three major issues," Dr. Hall, who has a 30- year background in public health and communicable disease, told Australia Associated Press (AAP) on Tuesday.

"... The immediate being drowning and injury, then a medium- term issue around infectious risks and being careful with food and water, and the third thing, which is immediate and in longer term.

"Some people will have lost everything, even family members ... there will be a need for psychological and other kinds of support and we can expect that to go on for quite some time."

Dr. Hall said the major infection threat came from bacteria carried in the contaminated floodwaters, that in minor cases would cause infections in cuts or gastroenteritis if swallowed.


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