New Hanover County Public Health is encouraging all residents to use caution and remain out of flooded areas.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “flood waters and standing waters pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries.”

Of particular concern is the risk of infections from vibrio bacteria, which is naturally occurring in coastal waters. The bacteria may be present in brackish waters and flood salt waters following Hurricane Florence, and in some seafood.

“Everyone should stay out of flooded water if possible,” said New Hanover County Public Health Director Phillip Tarte. “If you have a cut or scrape, or have a compromised immune system or liver disease, you are more susceptible to a bacterial infection from those waters.”

If contact with flood waters cannot be avoided, protect yourself with these CDC and Public Health tips:

  • Wear clothes and shoes that protect you from cuts and scrapes when in brackish or salt water
  • Wear protective gloves
  • Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water if they have been exposed to brackish, salt, flood waters, or even raw seafood or seafood juices
  • Cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if there’s a possibility it could come into contact with brackish, salt, flood waters, or even raw seafood or seafood juices
  • If you develop a skin infection, tell your medical provider if your skin has come into contact with brackish, salt, flood waters, or even raw seafood or seafood juices
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handing raw shellfish
  • Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices
  • For further protection, residents should have the following vaccines: Hepatitis A, Td (Tetanus & Diphtheria), and Tdap  (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). New Hanover County Public Health will have these vaccines available to the public, through insurance or self-pay.