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Hurricanes Katrina, Rita Left Skin Rashes in Their Wake
Date:11/20/2007

CDC researchers detail dermatologic conditions of workers rebuilding New Orleans

TUESDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Workers helping to rebuild New Orleans after hurricanes Katrina and Rita suffered from several different skin disorders, and new research suggests that many of the rashes were caused by some kind of insect bite.

"Dermatologic conditions have always been really common, but a systematic investigation had not really been done in the past," said study author Rebecca Noe, a staff epidemiologist with the National Center for Preparedness, Detection and Control of Infectious Disease at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "When I did a literature search, I typically saw people saying 'rashes.' It was really general."

The study was published in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

After the devastation of Katrina and Rita in August and September 2005, scientists had a chance to delve deeper.

Twenty-two percent of diseases treated in the aftermath of the twin disasters were skin-related.

At the end of September 2005, members of the CDC were asked by New Orleans hospital officials to assist investigating an outbreak of skin diseases among construction workers.

A group of men repairing roofs on a military base had rashes so severe they couldn't continue working.

The CDC investigators looked at biopsies and examined the living situations of 136 workers who were staying in 11 screened-in wooden huts on the military base. The workers had limited sanitation facilities (the main shower trailer was out of order).

Fifty-eight of the workers, or 42.6 percent, reported rashes. Of these, 70.7 percent were examined, and 27 (65.9 percent) were found to have papular urticaria, basically a reaction to insect bites.

Eight (19.5 percent) had bacterial folliculitis, an infection causing inflammation around the hair folli
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