More people are heading to the doctor for upper respiratory infections. Though it is common during the fall and winter, there are several reports out about Hurricane Irma and how the storm left behind several health hazards like polluted air, mold and contaminated water.
In September, Irma dumped several feet of water on Jacksonville, flooding downtown, the Northside, San Marco and other surrounding areas. Officials called the flooding "epic" and "historic."
With that much water damage, First Coast News set out to verify whether or not Hurricane Irma is making you sick.
Doctor Sunil Joshi is an allergist with Family Allergy and Asthma Consultants. He said he is seeing more patients after Irma. Furthermore, he said after hurricanes, more people do seek treatment for allergies.
"Because they are getting exposed to more moisture," he said. "They are stuck inside their house. They are now dealing with all of the debris in their yard. They are out there in the elements and they are getting exposed to allergens."
Mold is one of those allergens, he said. It is a concern because it can be toxic to your health. Joshi said mold, during the cooler months in Northeast Florida is especially common and can be airborne.
"Our sun, this time of year is not nearly as strong," he said. "It's not as hot as it was, it's not able to soak up that moisture as quickly as it was in July, so the water that's sitting in the ground is not being absorbed as quickly. It's the perfect environment for mold to develop."
Despite mold being airborne, Joshi said you shouldn't worry about wearing a mask to protect yourself.
"That's probably a little overkill," he said.
Regarding whether or not Hurricane Irma is making you sick? According to Joshi, it's possible but not likely.
"The hurricane itself is not making people sick," he said. "Jacksonville has over a million people. Not that many people are affected by the hurricane. Those that were certainly have issues, but in the big picture, it's not making people sick."
Joshi said, instead, other factors are contributing to people getting sick like kids heading back to school or the weather cooling off.
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