Heavy rains wash harmful bacteria into lakes, rivers - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Heavy rains wash harmful bacteria into lakes, rivers

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

You might want to think twice before taking a dip at your favorite swimming spot.

Health officials across Missouri warn heavy rainfall may wash dangerous bacteria into lakes and rivers where you tend to swim.

Most lakes have some level of bacteria in them, but when concentrations get too high, that's when people get sick or develop infections.

So far tests of local lakes haven't turned up anything harmful.

But if you're traveling across the state you'll want to check to see if the lake you're heading for is safe for swimming.

"The big one of course is the polluted storm water and that's going to be carrying all kinds of things with it," said Environmental Public Health Specialist Amy Morris. "Not only a large microbial count, but you're gonna see chemicals in there, pesticides. You name it and in flood waters you can find it."

There a few things you should do if you plan on taking a dip.

"Don't drink the water," said Morris. "Don't swim when you're sick. Cover your wounds. Just use good common sense. If things don't look right, you should avoid it. And check those postings. Sometimes they're really not that visible so you have to go up to the bulletin board or read the announcements they have posted at the park."

In Cape Girardeau County the health department on average sees 5-10 cases of bacterial infections related to recreational waterways every year.

Symptoms typically include gastrointestinal issues and may be more severe in children and the elderly.

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