(VDH release) Following heavy rain events this week, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reminds people to take precautions to avoid flooded areas, and once the sun comes out, be aware of potential health risks before you participate in recreational water activities.
Heavy rains can increase the risk of exposure to animal waste and inadequately treated wastewater from sewage treatment plants. Bacteria, debris and other pollutants are collected by rainwater as it travels over the land and ends up in rivers, lakes and streams. This mix of rain and pollution can pose risks to human health and safety. Rain events also cause flooding and fast-moving waters, especially in low-lying areas.
The most common illnesses from contaminated water are gastrointestinal illnesses. This may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. These illnesses result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing microbiological organisms. Additionally, contact with contaminated water has the potential to cause upper respiratory (ear, nose, throat) and skin infections.