W.Va. Recreational Waters Contaminated After Flood


During the heavy rains earlier this summer, sewers systems overflowed and even broke, pastures flooded and rivers breached their banks. All this water mingled into a contaminated soup of surface water, sewage and chemicals. As one public health expert put it – anything that was on the road during the flood had the possibility of getting in the water.

Now, the Elk River and other local water ways used for recreation are experiencing elevated bacteria levels. The risk to human health is mostly gastrointestinal. Waterborne diseases from bacteria or parasites may cause vomiting, diarrhea or nausea, according to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Skin, ear or eye infections are also possible, though less common, after contact with contaminated water.

To ensure recreational safety, the health department recommends looking for posted public health advisory signs, avoiding swimming in warm, slow-moving or stagnant water, keeping your head out of the water, and washing thoroughly with soap and clean water after contact with flooded surface waters.

Appalachia Helth News

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.