A month after Harvey swamped Katy and the Greater Houston area, leaving a trail of moldy debris in its wake, residents across the region are continuing to flood into clinics, urgent cares and doctors’ offices complaining about stuffy noses and coughs that just won’t go away.
Family medicine doctors at Memorial Hermann Medical Group clinics across the metro area say they are seeing higher-than-normal rates of respiratory infections, including acute bronchitis and sinus infections that seem to be lingering longer than usual – with many patients reported that they helped clean houses after flooding. Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center in Katy – which has seen a rash of acute bronchitis cases since Harvey inundated the area – urges patients to take extra caution to avoid mold exposure, especially if they are already experiencing symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.
“The best idea is to avoid anything that looks or smells like mold, and if you do need to clean it, make sure to wear an appropriate mask designed to protect specifically against mold,” said Dr. Amber Razfey Kazi, family medicine doctor at Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center in Katy. “And, as always, remember to wash your hands.”
While it’s tough to say with certainty what’s driving the respiratory distress, there are likely a few culprits to blame: Weed pollen, particularly ragweed, is especially bad right now, fueling more itching and sneezing than normal. That high pollen count is coupled with a large amount of mold spores, which could be living in still-soggy houses across the area and the piles of sodden dry wall, insulation and mattresses piled along curbs.