Receding flood waters bring health concerns

A week’s worth of rain has water flooding out of local creeks and rivers and into homes, but the the receding waters could be hazardous to your health.

For Murphysboro Park District Director Joe Fry in Illinois, cleaning up flood water at Riverside Park has become an annual occurrence.

“It’s a little late this year, but we’re pretty used to the water getting up,” Fry said. “It’s about as high as it’s going to be for the year.”

While the river water continues to wash trash and debris into the area, Bart Hagston of the Jackson County Health Department says the real problem begins when the waters recede.

“Mosquitoes that come out during floods, you’re going to see large quantities of them, but they don’t carry human disease,” Hagston said. “It’s the ones that start to appear after the flood waters recede — the culex mosquito or the Northern House Mosquito — that carry West Nile Virus. They like to breed in stagnant water.”

However, mosquitoes aren’t the only problem brought on by moisture.

“With flooding comes the risk of mold,” Hagston said.

That mold could make you sick, whether you are in or out of your house.

“Lots of people have allergies to mold and mildew,” Hagston said. “A lot of people are concerned about black mold and some of the more well-known types of dangerous mold.”

Hagston says the dangers of both mold and mosquitoes can be avoided by simply removing stagnant water or using chemicals found at your local hardware store.

Flood waters can be even more dangerous to animals than humans. The rising water brings out high levels of clostridia bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, as well as leptospirosis, which can lead to death if untreated.

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