Dr. Margaret Carrel, associate professor of geographical and sustainability sciences at the University of Iowa, is one of 32 winners of a prestigious Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. The $200,000 award to Dr. Carrel, who also has an appointment in the University of Iowa College of Public Health Department of Epidemiology, will support her project entitled, “Understanding Infectious Disease Risk in the Wake of Hurricanes and Floods in the U.S.”
“This award is a huge honor and an indicator that the questions we are seeking to answer are important to public health in the U.S.,” says Dr. Carrel. “The award gives me time and resources, in addition to those provided by the university, to do high quality research with colleagues and graduate students and to bring this information into the classroom.”
Dr. Carrel says the project will use data on health outcomes of U.S. veterans in combination with data on flood and hurricane exposure to assess if and how bacterial and viral infection rates change during or after disasters. The project also will look at the locations of industrial livestock production to see if potential exposure to flooded hog, cattle, or poultry facilities increases cases of infections, particularly those that are drug resistant.
“There’s a lot of concern on the part of the general public about how health outcomes change when people are exposed to contaminated floodwaters, but until now we’ve had no real way to assess this,” she says. “I hope we are able to determine when and how exposure to floods and hurricanes impacts disease outcomes, and that these results inform public health preparedness and response to disasters.”Friday Letter Submission