The cleanup after Hurricane Matthew means a race against mold and bacteria, both of which can grow in a damp environment and can cause disease.
Alignment to NC Essential Standards
- 8.L.1.1 — Summarize the basic characteristics of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites relating to the spread, treatment and prevention of disease.
- Students will describe the circumstances under which mold grows most quickly.
- Students will summarize the basic characteristics of bacteria and fungi relating to the spread of diseases.
- E. Coli
- Fecal Coliform
Students will view the NC Science Now video Hurricane Matthew: The Science of Cleanup.
- What kind of environment is conducive to the growth of mold and bacteria?
- What types of infections can mold cause, and who is especially susceptible to them?
- What are the dangers of floodwaters in connection with bacterial disease?
- Describe the test Dr. Noble is developing. How does it differ from existing tests issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?
Students will perform the lab activity Mold Growth.
Lead the class in a discussion based on questions in the lab activity.
Then ask the class to connect the growth of mold to the situation found in areas of North Carolina impacted by Hurricane Matthew.
We do not know as of yet what types of infections might occur in the wake of Hurricane Matthew as efforts increase to protect North Carolinians from possible disease. But studies showing the wave of infections that followed Hurricane Katrina, which hit the United States Gulf Coast in August 2005, can give some guidance to what types of dangers can arise. Students will read the resources (see below) that describe the infectious agents that arose in the wake of Katrina, and fill out the chart below:
- Health Effects of Mold — http://hurricanekatrina.web.unc.edu/health-effects-of-mold/
- After the Flood: The Menace of Mold — http://whyfiles.org/2012/after-the-flood-the-menace-of-mold/
- Mold is Everywhere — http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53469&page=3
- Hurricane Katrina — http://hurricanekatrina.web.unc.edu/health-effects-of-mold/
- What is Fecal Coliform? — http://www.clemson.edu/extension/natural_resources/water/publications/fecal_coliform.html
- High Levels of E. Coli and Lead in Hurricane Floodwaters — http://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/publichealth/1696
Students interested in the ways in which Hurricane Matthew can impact the potential spread of the Zika virus can read the following resources:
- Hurricane Matthew Could Make Florida’s Zika Problem Worse — http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/10/how-hurricane-matthew-intensifies-the-zika-threat-in-florida/503051/
- Hurricane Matthew Could Help Zika Fight — http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/08/health/zika-hurricane-matthew-florida/
- How Hurricane Matthew Can Make Zika Virus Worse — http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/08/health/zika-hurricane-matthew-florida/
The key to preventing diseases in the wake of Hurricane Matthew—or of any natural disaster—is to clean up as quickly and thoroughly as possible once the storm is over, and also to leave contaminated areas until they have been disinfected. Students can convert what they have learned about post-storm safety precautions to a public service poster, brochure or video announcement.
Additional online resources for students to use include:
- Post Storm Cleanup — http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/news/public-relations-contacts/severe-weather-preparedness/post-storm-cleanup/
- Flood Water After a Disaster — http://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/cleanupwater.html
- Storm Surge: The Benefits of Cleanup and Recovery after A Major Hurricane — http://www.salon.com/2016/10/08/storm-surge-the-benefits-of-cleanup-and-recovery-after-a-major-hurricane/
- Cleanup After a Disaster — https://www.usa.gov/disaster-clean-up