Free immunizations offered to combat flood related illness - News, Sports and Weather

Free immunizations offered to combat flood related illness

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HELENA, Mont.- The Public Health Office  is offering free immunizations to flood victims and volunteers on Friday.

Contact with floodwater can cause you to contract diseases such as Tetanus, Hepatitis-A, and the flu, even if you are just trying to help combat the floods by filling sandbags.

Toxic floodwaters crawling with dangerous bacteria, viruses and diseases can cling tires, clothes and more.
Unfortunately, for the folks in the Capital City, that water has spread far beyond the Helena Valley.

"This water is running across every square inch of Lewis and Clark County," said Kathy Moore, a Lewis and Clark County Public Health Official with expertise in water quality.

No cases involving flood related illness have been reported so far in Lewis and Clark County and the county health department is working to keep it that way.

"Were offering immunizations just to add extra protection to the people who are suffering or helping," said Shelly Maag, a public health official.

People exposed to flood water are most likely to contract Tetanus. The disease interferes with someone's ability to breath, eventually causing death. However, although it is unlikely, people exposed to floodwater could even contract Hepatitis-A or Influenza.

"Theres a lot of other diseases that flood waters can have because, it goes through the dirt, possibly sewage. Not all diseases are protected from vaccines, but we're just trying to offer what we can to protect those who can," said Maag.   

Officials are encouraging people to be especially aware of their current health. Something as small as a paper cut could cause an infection.

"The thing we really worry about is if you have a cut or are ingesting this water, you can get very ill. There are bacteria and viruses that can cause tremendous illness," said Moore.

Moore says the best thing to do if you encounter any floodwater is to use soap and uncontaminated water to thoroughly clean your hands, clothes and body. 
"If you haven't recently been updated on your tetanus shot. It'd be a good time to get one," said Moore.  

Even when water has subsided, you could still be at risk. The health department says clean up can also be risk y because contaminants cling to the dirt, household items, and more.

So, even if there is no more water around your home, its best to go ahead and get a shot.

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