June 20, 2014

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

KDHE Issues Floodwater Notice

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment advises Kansans to exercise caution near flooded bodies of water caused by recent excessive rainfall. Floodwaters pose health risks, such as physical dangers associated with entering swift moving floodwaters and illness in humans and animals.

The potential for pathogens in floodwater to cause illness is often measured by an indicator bacterium called E. coli. While all rivers and lakes contain bacteria, it should be noted that some bacteria are naturally occurring while others can be illness-causing or indicative of other illness causing pathogens such as viruses. These illnesses can cause a variety of symptoms including skin, ear, respiratory, eye, wound infections and diarrhea. Kansans planning to recreate at or near lakes/reservoirs should check with the local management regarding flood areas that should be avoided.

Floodwaters contain visible and hidden dangers. If you encounter floodwaters, the best way to stay safe is to stay out of the water. Dangers that floodwaters pose include:

If you live in an area prone to flooding, pay attention to local forecasts and advisories or warnings. Have an evacuation plan and move to higher ground before the water rises. Contact your local law enforcement and health department officials for up-to-date instructions in your area.