As the massive clean up in north Queensland after ex-Tropical Cyclone Ului continues, residents are worried about catching a deadly bacteria from the sodden soil.
As the category three cyclone crossed the coast in the early hours of Sunday morning, the ocean surged into the beachside town of Midge Point, north of Mackay.
Residents awoke to tonnes of mud and thousands of uprooted trees lining their streets.
They have now been left with the job of cleaning up the putrid mess.
Robyn Whelan, manager of the Midge Point Caravan Park, says it will take at least six months before she can let tourists back into the popular holiday spot.
“All the beautiful big trees are down everywhere,” she said.
“You just think, ‘where do we start’ and it’s just impossible.”
If the massive clean-up task was not enough to worry about, residents now have to be careful they do not pick up a deadly bacteria lurking in their muddy streets.
Ms Whelan’s husband Paul says he received a letter from Queensland Health two weeks ago, warning residents to be cautious when gardening after a north Queensland death related to a soil-borne bacteria.
“We have to be very, very aware about it,” he said.
“They said to wear gloves, wear proper footwear. We have had cases here of it.”
The germ, known as melioidosis, led to the death of a Charters Towers woman last month and seven other cases have been reported so far this year.
Queensland Health spokesman Dr Steven Donahue says the bacteria, which can be found in soil in the tropics, can lead to a variety of diseases.
“It can cause nasty skin sores and ulcers,” he said.
“It could lead to a form of blood poisoning where people just get sick with septicaemia and occasionally a chronic form of the disease will cause abscesses in the internal organs.
“Also of course people can get pneumonia from this germ as well.”
Dr Donahue says taking extra precautions might drag out the clean-up process, but it is worth it.
“It’s pretty sensible stuff – the kind of thing that your mother would tell you about,” he said.
“If you’re messing about in muddy water or areas where you could cut yourself or scratch yourself, put on a pair of good boots and some work gloves.
“If you’ve got any kind of scratches or nicks on the skin, it’s really important to wash them thoroughly with soap and water or antiseptic and then cover them with a waterproof dressing.”