Transcript: Louisiana Health Secretary Cerise

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 6, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: At the same time here as the floodwaters recede in New Orleans, the nation bracing itself for how many people lie dead beneath all that toxic water.

On the phone with us now from Baton Rouge is Louisiana's health chief, Dr. Fred Cerise.

Doctor, what you can tell us?

FRED CERISE, LOUISIANA HEALTH SECRETARY: Well, we have teams out in the field right now. To date, we have not received a large number of bodies. We certainly have a lot of reports.

But, in terms of the bodies that we have received and we have placed in our morgue, that number is still relatively small right now.

CAVUTO: So, Doctor, I know, in a lot of these cases, it's literally going to be finding bodies going house to house. Beyond that, where do you look? How do you look?

CERISE: Well, you know, we are relying on the disease mortuary team from FEMA to help with this effort. They have done this before. And, as you said, it is going to be a sweep through the city, looking house to house, looking in buildings and those sorts of things. So, it's going to be an exhaustive sweep through the city.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Doctor. I mean, there have been estimates as high as a few thousand to 10,000, maybe more, victims from this storm. What do you think of that?

CERISE: Well, all that can be done at this point is speculation, because the areas are so tough to get into, still, and it's not as if we had a tragedy that passed and now you can go clean up.

We are still battling the waters and that type of thing. And so, I really do think that we will be speculating until we see the water come down and we actually get a good chance to look at the entire city.

CAVUTO: All right. But, in the meantime, the one thing to be careful for, for those still in the region, avoid that water, right?

CERISE: That's correct.

And, you know, the major effort is to try to keep people out of that area and to fully evacuate the area. Even those that have left behind and want to stay, we need to get that area cleaned out, as you said, and to keep people out of the water, because there is risk of contamination and that sort of a thing.

CAVUTO: Doctor, what are the biggest diseases that you have to be on the lookout for? We only have a few seconds here.

CERISE: Well, the main thing is just contaminated water. And so, that's going to cause G.I. disturbances, bacterial infections and that type of thing, from standing water, sewage and that sort of thing.

CAVUTO: OK. We will see what happens.

Doctor, thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Dr. Fred Cerise.

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