Contaminated Florida Water Could Cost People Their Limbs, Warns UF Engineer

Antarpreet Jutla, Ph.D.
Antarpreet Jutla, Ph.D.

Direct impact with flooding caused by Hurricane Idalia may lead to increased pathogens from different water systems that could result in the loss of limbs or even death, a University of Florida researcher told Newsweek.

The powerful storm made landfall Wednesday morning as a Category 3, heavily impacting Florida’s Big Bend of coastal communities. Over 275,000 Floridians lost power while others have lost homes and lives, with rescue missions taking place since the storm was lowered to Category 1.

Antarpreet Jutla, Ph.D., an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Florida, has examined the variation of water levels following extreme weather events, primarily hurricanes, that trigger floods and inundation at local and regional water systems.

Following Hurricane Ian in September 2022, he and colleagues sampled the Fort Myers region—notably for the presence of, and citizens’ exposure to, two pathogenic bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The impact of residents finding themselves in flooded areas that contain such pathogens can be drastic.