Standing Water Can Mean Health Dangers

The rain has stopped, leaving behind flooded streets and standing water accumulating in backyards. But mosquitoes aren’t our biggest worry because of this, at least not yet, says a New York infectious disease specialist. 

“It takes four days for new mosquitoes to hatch from eggs,” said Bruce Hirsch, MD, an infectious disease specialist in the North Shore-LIJ Health System. “So the first three days after the rain you’re in great shape.”

However, there are other health hazards that people should be aware of in the aftermath of intense rain and flooding.

“The main problem with standing water in the short term is the potential for physical injury,” said Dr. Hirsch. “Sometimes, we can’t see what’s underneath the water, and if we’re stepping through it we may twist an ankle on a submerged object.”

In addition, bacteria can form in standing water that can lead to a potential health problem.

“If there is a wound or a cut that’s exposed to standing water, certain bacteria can cause very aggressive skin infections,” said Dr. Hirsch.

Any rain residue that hasn’t dried up in the next few days could be used by mosquitoes to propagate to make more mosquitoes. Even a small amount of water – the size of a thimble – could be used by a single mosquito to reproduce up to 200 young, said Dr. Hirsch.

While other parts of the country, such as South Florida, are having major issues with mosquito-borne illnesses, thankfully that’s not the case in our area, he said.

So, what can be done to minimize your risk of getting bit?

“Many of the mosquitoes that are in our area tend to bite around dawn and dusk,” said Dr. Hirsch. “So, wearing long sleeves and some protection (i.e., mosquito repellent) during those times may be particularly helpful.”

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