The Florida Department of Health in Madison and Hamilton counties issued a joint health advisory to residents and visitors next to the Withlacoochee River in north Florida on Sunday, August 30. The City of Valdosta, Georgia has reported a spill, made up of a combination of storm water and untreated sewage that has overflowed into Sugar Creek, which flows into the Withlacoochee River.
Until further information is known regarding possible contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. Water contaminated with wastewater overflow presents several health hazards to humans and may contain untreated human sewage with microbes that could cause gastro-intestinal and other diseases.
Anyone who comes into contact with the river water should wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking. Children and older adults, as well as people with weakened immune systems, are particularly vulnerable to disease so every precaution should be taken if in contact with the river water.
For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, Floridians are encouraged to contact DOH-Madison at (850) 973-5000 or visit www.madison.floridahealth.gov and DOH-Hamilton at (386) 758-1059 or www.hamilton.floridahealth.gov.