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Flood Water Is Risky, Official Says

Aug 11, 2005 | The Ledger Polk residents who are dealing with flooding need to watch for hidden dangers in the rising water.

They should keep their children from playing in flood water because of the risk of snakes, biting insects, electric shocks from fallen wires, and materials such as animal feces that could spread illness, said Dr. Daniel Haight, director of the Polk County Health Department.

People who come in contact with dirty water, especially if they have open cuts or sores, should wash and rinse exposed areas. Toys that have been in flood water need to be disinfected, using one cup of bleach in one gallon of water, before children play with them.

Aside from those dangers, people are at higher risk of heat exhaustion and muscle pulls as they move furniture and other possessions out of harm's way.

And Haight said the situation, flooding that's caused damage or the threat of it -- could lead to stress and depression.

So far, Haight said he doesn't know of any hepatitis A outbreaks. One hepatitis A case did occur at a day care recently, but he said it wasn't shown to be flood-related.

Polk, which typically has 15 to 30 cases of hepatitis A per year, has 13 this year.

"Even during the hurricanes, we didn't have what was clearly a flood-related illness," he said.

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