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Floods -- North Carolina -- Environmental aspects, Hurricane Florence (2018) -- Environemntal aspects, Water -- Composition -- Testing, Salmonella enterica, Drug resistance in microorganisms


The severity of hurricanes, and thus the associated impacts, is changing over time. One of the understudied threats from damage caused by hurricanes is the potential for cross-contamination of water bodies with pathogens in coastal agricultural regions. Using microbiological data collected after hurricanes Florence and Michael, this study shows a dichotomy in the presence of pathogens in coastal North Carolina and Florida. Salmonella typhimurium was abundant in water samples collected in the regions dominated by swine farms. A drastic decrease in Enterococcus spp. in Carolinas is indicative of pathogen removal with flooding waters. Except for the abundance presence of Salmonella typhimurium, no significant changes in pathogens were observed after Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle. We argue that a comprehensive assessment of pathogens must be included in decision-making activities in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes to build resilience against risks of pathogenic exposure in rural agricultural and human populations in vulnerable locations.


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