Houston's floodwaters are contaminated with dangerous bacteria likely responsible for an upswing in health issues, reports the New York Times. The Times organized a team of scientists from Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University who tested floodwaters in two Houston neighborhoods. In a family's living room at a downtown public housing development, they found E. coli at 135 times the level considered safe. High levels of lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals were found elsewhere in the home, while E. coli was found at four times the level considered safe in a neighborhood in Houston's Energy Corridor. The Houston Press previously reported that a Texas A&M team had found E. coli at 125 times the level considered safe for swimming.
"There's pretty clearly sewage contamination," says Lauren Stadler, who took part in the Times' research. The analysis suggests "conditions inside the home are more ideal for bacteria to grow and concentrate. It's warmer and the water has stagnated for days and days," says Stadler. People have been forced to wade through floodwaters to reach their homes, but kids have also been seen playing in floodwaters, she notes, adding, "That's concerning to me." Doctors say they've seen an increase in skin infections likely from exposure to floodwaters, while one man says medical staff helped him survive flesh-eating bacteria, reports Time. Other residents have complained about staph infections, including some who say they weren't warned about possible contamination. (Read more Houston stories.)