Flooding Brings Risk of Disease

Floods not only threaten community members with loss of life, but also pose significant health risks. These risks include water- and insect-borne disease. Being aware of these hazards and knowing how to handle them is critical for individuals living in flood zone areas. In a recent Arkansas News article, writer John Lyon chronicles the importance of awareness and how to keep safe.

“There’s a number of areas of concern,” said Dr. James Phillips, director of the state Health Department’s infectious disease branch, as quoted in thehttp://arkansasnews.com article. “One is, if someone drank the water, of course there’s a potential that it’s contaminated with sewage, both animal and human sewage, and so one could develop some diarrheal-type problems from the ingestion of high counts of E. coli and some of the other coliform organisms.”

Other diseases that can be contracted by ingesting flood water include Hepatitis A and cholera. Health experts advise individuals who come into contact with flood water to wash their hands, not allow children to play near flood water, and not allow children to play with toys that come into contact with flood water unless they have been disinfected.

If you have a cut or abrasion and come into contact with flood water, wash them with soap and clean water. Then cover the wounds with waterproof bandages. For those working in flood areas, Phillips advises wearing rubber boots. Preventative measures include giving tetanus shots to individuals working in flood areas. “State health workers also commonly administer tetanus shots to people working in areas damaged by tornadoes and other disasters,” according to the report.

When public drinking water is deemed unsafe due to flood waters in a particular community, the Health Department issues a “boil order,” which means water should be boiled for at least one minute before drinking it or using it for cooking.

Other factors to be cognizant of during and after flooding include preventing mosquito bites, mold prevention, and disposing of infected foods and products.

For more information about flood hazards and how to deal with the risks, read the full article: http://arkansasnews.com/2011/05/08/flooding-brings-risk-of-disease/