Date Posted: 06-21-2013
Being exposed to contaminated flood water can cause illnesses that can be mild to life-threatening.. Photo courtesy of Vincent Go for ABS-CBN News


MANILA, Philippines—Every Filipino should be aware of the dangers lurking beneath the murky flood waters, especially during the rainy season.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Atsronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), “Fabian”, the recent tropical depression has left the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

We are still advised to prepare for light to moderate rains and thunderstorms.

Did you know that aside from the heavy rains and flooding the rainy season can bring, there are also bacterial and viral contaminants found in our flood waters?

Even after the flood subsides in a certain area, bacteria and viruses still lurk around the area itself.

Flood waters can also bring with them insects, parasites and other objects that can be dangerous to people.

Not only should we be prepared for sudden rains and floods this rainy season, we should also be aware of our family’s safety when it comes to daily activities such as proper food preparation and keeping our clothes clean and germ-free.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), flood water can be contaminated by different kinds of bacteria and viruses.

People who are around previously flooded areas can potentially be exposed to microbial contamination.

CDC mentioned that outdoor areas such as fields, residential septic systems, municipal sanitary sewer systems and agricultural areas can be common sources of contaminants that mix into flood water when it rains.

These areas contribute to the contamination of flood water by excreting chemicals and bacteria whenever it floods.

These microbes and contaminants in flood water can then infect people when it floods in their communities.


CDC says that flood water contains bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminthes.

Did you know that bacteria can survive on the soil for 2 to 3 months after a flood?

Microbes are known to have the ability to survive on a surface for long periods of time.

These pathogens are deemed to be dangerous to human health during and after a flood.

Being exposed to contaminated flood water can cause illnesses that can be mild to life-threatening.

Diseases such as dysentery, infectious hepatitis, dysentery and severe gastroenteritis can be acquired by simply being in contact with contaminated flood water.

Aside from bacteria, fungi and viruses found floating around flood water, there are also physical dangers that can be lurking around.

The dangers lurking beneath flood waters

Flood water is usually murky; therefore, you will have a hard time seeing what you will be walking on and what you might be exposed to.

CDC mentioned that eating and drinking anything that came in contact with flood water can cause diarrhea or loose bowel movement.

Contaminants found in flood waters can infect open wounds.

Leptospirosis is one of the common diseases caused by wading in flood water. If a person comes in contact with flood water that contains urine of animals such as rats, they can get infected.

Skin infections such as jock itch, ringworm and athlete’s foot can also be acquired when your skin comes in contact with flood water.

CDC also mentioned that chemical components from hazardous chemical containers of solvents from industries’ storage places can be swept away by flood as well.

This can potentially harm a person’s skin and overall health.

Drowning is also a risk for everyone who lives near flooded areas, regardless of their ability to swim.

CDC says that fast moving shallow water can sweep you off your feet, while shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.

It was also mentioned that flood waters have the ability to carry with it animals, insects and reptiles.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, anyone who walks through flood water can be bitten by snakes or floating insects.

You and your family can also get wounded by sharp objects, glass or metal fragments that can cause injury and infection.

Specific actions

CDC advises health authorities to identify possible contamination sources and provide specific actions in order to avoid further contamination.

Public health education should also include proper hygiene and emphasis on proper precautions when it comes to flood water safety.

Simple practices such as washing your hands with soap and water, proper food preparation and proper washing of clothes can help.

Practicing precautionary measures such as being responsible enough to avoid flooded areas and being hygienic will also play a big role to help in the improvement of one’s health. -With reports from ABS-CBN News