March 24, 2019

DHSS urges vigilance in flood-impacted areas

Media Contact:
Lisa Cox
Chief, Office of Public Information
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Ongoing flood conditions have the potential to raise additional health concerns for Missourians. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) advises citizens to enhance their monitoring of local health alerts, media outlets and other information sources for health-related flooding information that could be impacting the areas where they work, live or travel.

\"Flooding can be associated with infectious disease transmission so we continue to work with our partners to assess for waterborne illness,\" said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. \"Prevention is always our first consideration, so we continue to encourage people to reduce exposure by avoiding contact with floodwaters and pay attention to advisories on water quality.\"

Last week, Governor Mike Parson declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to the flooding. Floodwaters can pose serious health risks including such issues as:

  • Floodwater can contain raw sewage and pose other risks, including infectious diseases, hazardous chemical exposure, and debris that can cause injuries.
  • Direct contact with floodwater can cause skin rashes, an infection of cuts or wounds or stomach illnesses including vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Downed or broken power lines in floodwater pose an electrocution hazard.
  • Sharp objects and debris, such as glass or metal objects, may be lurking in floodwater.
  • Animals, insects, snakes and other reptiles that have been displaced due to flooding may be submerged or hiding in debris in or near floodwaters.

The persistent flooding conditions continue to pose a threat to the quality of both public and private water systems for Missourians. Citizens, especially infants, the elderly or those with a compromised immune system, need to be aware of this ongoing threat and the symptoms that can be caused by consuming contaminated water (gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, nausea, intestinal cramping, dehydration, etc.).

If consumption of contaminated water is suspected, DHSS urges consumers to contact their physician.

More information regarding flood safety and recovery

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.