The occurrence of flood damage in property is undoubtedly a
hassle. It is difficult to say that the statement “nobody wants to deal with a
flooded home” commits the fallacy of overgeneralization. The reason behind this
is that empirical observation trumps logical constructs. The fact is that flood
damage can be quite a stressful situation. As such, people want to avoid it as
much as possible.
But despite the desire to keep away from it, there are some
situations that cannot be helped. When waters from flooding enter the property,
some of the damage that ensues can range from structural weakness to shortening
of electrical systems. But, it is important to note that it is not just the
home that is affected when there is flooding. Even its occupants are at risk.
One of the features of floodwater is that it is a hospitable
breeding ground for pathogenic microorganisms that can cause disease. This
group of illnesses is called waterborne diseases and is named as such because they
are transmitted when a person ingests the contaminated water. It is a serious
concern because according to the World Health Organization, a large chunk of
diseases experienced worldwide is because of an unsafe water supply.
The pathogens come in a variety of forms like protozoa, viruses,
or bacteria. However, they do have one thing in common: they can survive and
even flourish in floodwaters. Thus, property owners should be aware of the
diseases that they can encounter in the event that they experience flooding in
One of the most common diseases that come from flooding is
amebiasis, which is a type of gastrointestinal infection. It is brought on by
the amoeba called the Entamoeba histolytica although other types of amoebas can
cause similar symptoms in humans. Amebiasis, although well-known, can be deadly
and causes 70,000 deaths annually around the world. The symptoms include
diarrhea and blood in the stool.
In most cases, the amoeba only affects the intestinal lining of
the body. However, more severe cases see a situation when the parasite travels
to the bloodstream and is brought to different organs of the body. Most
commonly, it is brought to the liver where it can cause amoebic liver abscesses
or the formation of infected masses in the liver. Take note that the person is
not always symptomatic immediately. Amebiasis can occur even months after the
person has been exposed to the floodwater.
The usual way amebiasis to be transmitted is through fecal-oral
contact. Thus, it is most likely to occur if the flood damage is caused by
sewage or water that has not been properly treated. Amebiasis can also be
acquired through contact with objects that have been contaminated. This means
that even if the floodwater has receded, it can still pose a danger if the
affected area was not properly disinfected.
The floodwater does not have to come from households or
industrial sources for it to be a carrier of disease. Even the seasonal runoff
of water can be contaminated with parasites that lead to illness in people.
Cryptosporidiosis has symptoms that are very similar to the common flu. It can
be accompanied by diarrhea, loss of appetite and sudden weight loss, and
What causes Cryptosporidiosis is a parasite called Cryptosporidium,
a kind of protozoa that targets the intestinal tracts of mammals. It does not
last in the body long and is known as a short-term infection. However, that
does not mean that Cryptosporidiosis is something to be trifled with. People
with compromised immune systems such as those with lupus or AIDS can experience
severe symptoms that can lead to death.
It is usually transmitted by the presence of fecal matter,
whether from humans or animals, in the water that is ingested.
Cryptosporidiosis is then likely from broken sewage pipes or unfiltered water.
The parasite that causes this particular disease is quite resistant. In fact,
it can withstand even the presence of chlorine. This is the reason why it is
important to fully clean the area that was exposed to floodwater.
Giardiasis is a type of medical condition that is characterized
by the infection of the small bowel by an organism called the Giardia lambia.
It is quite prevalent with an average rate of 2.5 million people each year. One
of the reasons why it is hard to get rid of is that it can survive in a variety
of mammalian hosts, which also includes humans.
The occurrence of Giardiasis is caused by three methods: the
passing of the pathogen from person to person, ingestion of contaminated water,
and fecal-oral contamination. In all three cases, the common thread is poor
hygiene and sanitation. This makes floodwaters a bastion for the microscopic
organisms that cause this particular disease.
The symptoms of Giardiasis include pain the abdomen, diarrhea,
vomiting, and excess gas. Fever may also be experienced in more severe cases.
Most of the time, people who experience Giardiasis have mild symptoms that
increase in intensity as the pathogen becomes more resistant.
Currently, there are no vaccines or other kinds of medication
that can prevent the onset of Giardiasis. The best way to avoid it is by
ensuring that the home is kept free from the organisms that cause it. Make sure
to disinfect the flooded area completely after the water has receded. Also,
regular inspections of the sewage pipes can prevent obstructions that can lead
Caused by the parasite known as Cyclospora cayetanesis,
Cyclospora is a type of intestinal infection that spreads through the ingestion
of contaminated food or water. For example, if floodwater enters the home and
the water comes in contact with the residents, then it is possible for them to
get ill after.
There are various factors which contribute to the likelihood of
people getting sick with Cyclospora. However, the most prevalent is their
exposure to poor sanitation. This is exactly the kind of environment that flooding
brings as the water is rarely clean. In fact, the opposite is almost always
true. Most of the damage done by flooding is precisely because it is quite
The symptoms of Cyclospora need about a week before they start
to show. It affects the small intestine of the body and causes diarrhea and
stomach cramps. Other signs of the illness include weight loss, bloating,
fatigue, and nausea. It should be noted that Cyclospora does not always exhibit
symptoms. In some situations, people do not always notice that they are already
infected for up to a month. It is also possible that the symptoms may disappear
only to occur several times after.
These are only some of the diseases that can be associated with
flood damage. In most cases, they way that people are affected occur in the
same sequence of events: water enters the home and people ingest the
contaminated water causing illness. The thing about flood damage is that it can
affect people without them knowing. It is precisely the stealth involved which
makes it quite a serious situation. For example, most property owners believe
that the crisis is over once the water is dry. This is not necessarily so.
Sometimes the floodwater can aerosolize and reach places that
are not always obvious. It is even possible that the airconditioning system of
the house can bring the water vapors to its other portions. To fully remedy the
situation, thoroughly scrub the property with detergents and other commercial
cleaners before declaring it fit for habitation. Do not forget to disinfect
even the furnishing such as carpets and upholstered furniture. Finally, in the
event that the floodwater that contaminated the home is blackwater. Meaning
that it comes from the sewage, avoid all contact with it because it is a
bastion of disease-causing microorganisms. Instead, call for professionals who
are trained to handle situations such as these.
Although there are antibiotics and medicines available to treat waterborne
diseases, it is still best to avoid the situation altogether. It is important
for people to realize that the damage of flooding can be financially
devastating especially if one of its effects concerns the health of the
homeowner and his or her family. After all, hospitalization and costs of
medication do not come cheap. Even though the aforementioned diseases are not
rare and in fact, are treated quite frequently, it can still be quite a burden
to have them cured.
But more than just the financial considerations, the most
significant reason to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the
property from flood damage is the fact that the home should be maintained as a
place of safety for the people residing there. Without the assurance that it
can be an environment of security and health, it does not fulfill its purpose
of being a place of respite. Although accidents and natural perils are not
always avoidable, there are some things that people can do to keep their heads
above water, so to speak. One of the most important is to be aware of their
surroundings and arm themselves with the knowledge of the possible consequences
that can be brought on by flooding and the damage it brings. Exercising wisdom
and preparedness can spell the difference between the continued health of the
inhabitants and disease.