Health Officials Warn of Possible Infectious Diseases Contracted in Flooded Areas

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Health officials are now warning residents who live along the river to be extra cautious of potentially infectious diseases that could be in the water.

Dr. Paul McKinney, Associate Dean of Public Heath at the University of Louisville, said that aside from the deeper, faster moving water, even splashing can be dangerous if water gets in someone’s mouth or nose.

Hepatitis B or C, MRSA and the rotovirus are just some of the diseases that could be contracted if hands are not washed or surfaces indoors aren’t washed with bleach.

“There are parasitic diseases like cryptosporidiosis, an unusual thing you may not have heard about," McKinney said. "It was a big problem in the city of Milwaukee after a flooding event they had in the 1990s."

Walking around barefoot in flooded waters cannot only severely injure feet but can cause “immersion foot” or “trench foot,” which is similar to frostbite: difficult to treat but very preventable by wearing rubber boots.

Adults should get a Tetanus-diphtheria (TD) shot to prevent any infections caused by open wounds in the water. Clark County, Indiana, will hold a free tetanus vaccination from 2-6 p.m. Wednesday at the Utica Town Hall,

Health officials are warning children to not play with toys that have come in contact with river or flood waters. The items should be washed thoroughly and disinfected.

“Hopefully, the problem will go away in a few days as the flood waters to recede to normal levels,” McKinney said.

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