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DOH: Swimming not recommended at beaches

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Posted at 1:34 PM, Sep 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-15 13:34:50-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Health officials are urging residents and visitors of storm-struck areas to stay out of the water at the beach and in area of flooding.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a precautionary swim advisory for all public beaches due to potential effects on water quality related to Hurricane Irma. 

The advisory is issued out of an abundance of caution and in order to protect the health and well-being of Florida’s residents and visitors.  At this time, swimming is not recommended in areas that have not been tested since the storm.

The department has deployed three environmental health strike teams statewide to augment local environmental health staff conduct testing to determine the water quality at these locations. As results are available, data is updated on DOH’s website here.

DOH-Lee anticipates all results to be complete in five days.

Until results are available from testing conducted after the storm, you should assume that water contact may pose an increased risk of disease, particularly for immunocompromised individuals.

Additionally, residents should avoid contact with floodwaters. Flood water may contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks.

There may also be unseen hazards under the water in areas that received storm surge or freshwater flooding. Flood waters can also mask debris, downed power lines and other hazards.

Basic hygiene is very important during this emergency period. Always wash your hands with soap and water after helping in cleanup activities and after handling items contaminated by floodwater or sewage. To determine if your area has an active boil water notice, check with your utility company or click here[floridahealth.gov].

If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled than cooled water. Apply antibiotic cream to reduce the risk of infection. If a wound or sore develops redness, swelling or drainage, see a physician.

Do not allow children to play in floodwater. They can be exposed to water contaminated with fecal matter.

Do not allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use 1/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water to disinfect toys and other items.

For further information, please contact your local county health department or visit www.floridahealth.gov or www.FloridaDisaster.org.