Tulane University researchers are undertaking a five-year study, monitoring the respiratory health of 1,000 New Orleans area workers to see if there really is such a thing as “Katrina Cough.”
The project is underwritten by a $1.86 million grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. During the study, each participant will answer a questionnaire, undergo a breathing test and wear a monitor for five or six hours to detect workplace exposure to dust, bacteria and mold.
The study will be led by Henry Glindmeyer, a professor of pulmonary, critical-care and environmental medicine in Tulane’s medical school.
In the months following Hurricane Katrina, there were news reports quoting some doctors as saying the hurricane’s aftereffects included increased colds, cough and other respiratory conditions among residents returning to the area.
The problems were initially linked to Katrina’s floods, weeks of standing water and mold that plagued the city late in the summer of 2005.
However, a state health-department study in April 2006 of more than 56,000 emergency-room visits did not find an increase in severe respiratory problems. Slightly more than 1 percent of those visits were for asthma, and about 7 percent were for respiratory infections, researchers found.
Those figures, they said, were similar to national data.
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