Drought conditions pose health risks

The possible effects of drought on your health.
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 5:19 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - With the ongoing drought continuing across the Heartland and the country, there are a number of health concerns you need to be aware of.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the dry conditions may lead to respiratory issues, spreading West Nile Virus carried by mosquitoes, malnourishment and more.

We talked with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology Chief Jeff Wenzel who said they are seeing drought conditions worsen across the state.

“Recently, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had areas in a classification called D-4 which is exceptional drought,” Wenzel said. “That is worse than what we’ve seen previously in the year and we really haven’t seen it since 2012 and 2018.”

One area his department deals a lot with is interpreting results for private drinking water.

“Something we ask for or let people know is to watch their private drinking water quality if that’s changing in appearance, taste, smell or other qualities, it would be good to have that tested,” Wenzel said. “Groundwater fluctuates and you can have changes in your quality where you might get more sediment or potentially bacteria or something in there that you will want to check periodically.”

There are other areas of concern that could affect your health as well. A prolonged drought can result in ill effects from dry land, stagnant water and lack of water.

“A dry dusty day could cause breathing issues, changes in the type of mold and pollen, there might be some people that have allergies that aren’t used to having allergies because there’s different molds in the air,” Wenzel said. “Vector-borne diseases, just like us and our habits are changing during a drought, animals and insects change what they do. Just watering our yard where there’s not water elsewhere could attract mosquitos.”

Wenzel suggested reporting drought conditions in your area here.

For more information on private drinking water, you can find that here.