Risk of infection during floods: The hidden danger

With the rising water level, the risk of infection in flood areas also increases: Various bacteria and germs as well as toxins can get into the groundwater and permanently contaminate bathing lakes and drinking water. Caution should also be exercised when cleaning up.

Severe weather and the associated flooding will affect large parts of Germany particularly badly this year. In addition to the immediate threat to life and property, there are dangers lurking in water that can cause long-term damage to health.

Risk of infection particularly high during floods

The risk of infection associated with flooding is often underestimated. Most of the time, direct damage to house and yard, clean-up work and the current crisis situation keep people very busy. However, flooding not only carries the risk of material or acute damage, the risk of infection is also higher.

These health hazards rise with the tide:

The stagnant water level also increases the risk of mosquito infestation and, as a result, allergic reactions associated with insect bites.

Injuries during clean-up work, mosquito bites or a later stay in polluted areas can also lead to infections or inflammation afterwards.

Floods: How to reduce the risk of infection

During the cleaning work, germs and bacteria can penetrate through small injuries.

You should pay attention to the following during the clean-up work:

  • Wear rubber boots, waterproof household gloves and water-repellent clothing. Pay attention to tight gloves and exchange them in case of damage.
  • Clean your hands with  disinfectant  or hygienic soap and warm water.
  • Avoid eating and smoking cigarettes in the soiled area to reduce the risk of infection from soiled hands.
  • Check your tetanus vaccination coverage.
  • Make sure you have enough mosquito and  insect repellent .

If you have any questions or are unsure, you should contact the responsible health authority. The responsible health department and/or civil protection and fire brigade should also be notified immediately if carcasses of dead animals are found, if there is an acrid smell or if toxic substances are released.

 Contamination can also occur in bathing lakes, rivers and drinking water during light floods or after the flood  . These usually manifest themselves in the body in the form of gastrointestinal complaints. You should pay attention to this:

  • Boil drinking water sufficiently and for a long time before drinking.
  • Do not eat any food that has come into contact with floodwaters, washing up with these foods also makes no sense. Dispose of these.
  • Find out more about the germ load in bathing lakes and rivers from the responsible health or environmental authority. Pay attention to regular hand washing  and other hygiene measures in playgrounds and other children’s play areas  .

Heavy thunderstorms, floods and storms harbor many dangers. Despite acute dangers from the rain masses, the risk of infection should not be underestimated and the measures described should be observed in order to avoid damage to health.


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