The 2017 Lismore Flood
The 2017 Lismore Flood Marc Stapelberg

HEALTH ALERT: Diluted sewage in flood waters

HEALTH authorities have warned residents against coming into contact with flood waters, or else risk infection from diluted sewage.

Northern NSW acting director of public health, Greg Bell, said all floodwaters should be treated as potentially contaminated.

Mr Bell advised people that they should not swim or play in floodwater because of the dangers of contacting diluted sewage, bacteria, chemicals and physical hazards that may be present.

"While the risk of infection from contact with floodwater is generally low, it is important to stay away from flood-affected areas and avoid unnecessary contact with mud and floodwaters.

To avoid illness, it is important to wash hands with soap and clean water after participating in any flood clean-up activities, and before eating or handling food.

"Swimming in contaminated water may cause illness, including ear infections, eye
infections, fever and diarrhoea," Mr Bell said.

Residents and visitors are advised to avoid swimming in the ocean, rivers, creeks and lagoons for at least three days after the rain has stopped.

Avoid swimming if there are signs of pollution such as discoloured water, oil or scum on the water, and litter or other debris floating in the water or on the tide line.

Mr Bell said that if people have health concerns they should first seek advice from their General Practitioner.

Some safety and hygiene tips to remember:

• when coming into contact with floodwater or items contaminated by floodwater
people should ensure that feet are covered and always wear gloves

• always wash hands thoroughly with soap or alcohol-based hand cleanser

• cover cuts and abrasions; and

• if you cut yourself on something that has been contaminated with floodwater,
check with your GP about your tetanus vaccination.

For more information please visit the following link on the NSW Health website:

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