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Floodwaters Can Be Deadly Without Taking A Sip

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Evans residents carry valuable possessions through the flood waters on Sept. 16, 2013. (credit: CBS)

Evans residents carry valuable possessions through the flood waters on Sept. 16, 2013. (credit: CBS)

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- Even without taking a sip, some bacteria in floodwaters can be deadly.

Even though it may be the only way to get to safety, sloshing through floodwaters is a bad idea because you can’t see the hidden dangers below. What’s living in the water may be even worse.

“A lot of the floodwaters have stirred up the tetanus that could be in either the soil or in the waste products from either animals or humans,” said Larimer County Department of Health spokeswoman Avie Strand.

Tetanus or lockjaw is a disease caused by bacteria that you get through a wound. Tetanus is serious and can be fatal.

That’s why Larimer County Health is offering free tetanus boosters to about 500 flood victims or cleanup crews who are behind on their shots.

“Anybody that’s been in flood water and hasn’t had a tetanus shot should definitely get one,” said Poudre Valley Medical Center Dr. Scott Johnston.

Emergency room physician Johnston warns gastrointestinal bugs are also lurking in floodwaters.

Among them are parasites including Giardia and other bacteria like E.coli which can cause several symptoms including, “vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal cramping,” said Johnston.

Doctors recommend limiting exposure to those bacteria by staying out of the water and washing your hands and clothing.

“Trying to limit any kind of facial exposure to the floodwaters and certainly don’t drink any water that’s standing,” said Johnston.

Standing water also attracts mosquitoes and those pests transmit the potentially deadly West Nile virus.

The free tetanus shots will be available at the Northern Colorado Disaster Assistance Center located at 815 14th Street SW in Loveland on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until supplies last.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

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