A Mississippi firefighter died recently from septic shock after scratching his finger on a “flood car,” Automotive Body Repair News
reports. The car was contaminated with sepsis, a fatal toxin. The floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina tested at 50 times above the normal danger level for sepsis, ABRN reports, among other toxins, such as raw sewage, E coli, petrochemicals, human and animal remains, hexavalent chromium, arsenic and lead. Sepsis can spread from just a tiny break of the skin. Patients developing sepsis can progress from fever symptoms, nausea and vomiting to organ failure and septic shock very quickly. The illness is frequently under-diagnosed. Sepsis ranks as the 13th-most common cause of death in the U.S. It is estimated that each year there are 400,000 bouts of sepsis, 200,000 cases of septic shock, and 100,000 deaths from the illness.ABRN warns technicians to wear gloves and protective clothing when handling known flood-damaged vehicles. The ABRN report does not cite other incidences of sepsis caused by cuts from Hurricane Zone vehicles.