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E. coli and viruses in floodwater

Updated: Monday, September 30 2013, 04:47 PM MDT
By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso Department of Health is warning everyone to stay away from flood waters, saying it can cause serious illnesses.

This week, a number of people were caught swimming in floodwater at Album Park in east El Paso.

While some may be tempted to take a dip, the health department says -- don't.

"What looks like a beautiful pond, pristine, but I can guarantee you there's E. coli in there," said director Robert Resendes.

E. coli is a bacteria that causes serious gastric problems, and if a case is severe enough it can be deadly.

Resendes said E. coli is very common in parks where there are dog droppings.

"The rain comes (and) washes it into the pond," said Resendes.

E. coli isn't the only danger found in floodwaters, though. Resendes said there are also parasites and viruses in the water, including those viruses can cause hepatitis.

"Probably not a good idea to go swimming in there or ingesting any of this water," said Resendes.

Then there's drinking water. Resendes said people living within city limits shouldn't worry about anything. But for people living in El Paso County where residents depend on well water, it's a different story.

"If you have a well, chances are you have a septic system and when flooding takes place that septic system can overflow, go across the yard and contaminate the well," said Resendes.

Resendes urges anyone who has a well to get the water tested as soon as possible.

To find out where people can get their water tested visit: ephealth.com. E. coli and viruses in floodwater


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