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Diseases from Sewage Exposure

A sewer backup is one of the most inconvenient and dirty situations that could happen in your home. Nothing will ruin a beautiful sunny day faster than seeing the water rise in your toilet bowl and dripping onto your floor. Here at Tony’s Drain and Sewer Cleaning, we understand your frustration and we want to help eliminate the problem as soon as possible, but have you ever thought about the health risks of being exposed to sewage.

People-Getting-Sick-From-SewageWe believe it is important to be well informed and take proper precautions when dealing with sewage. In this blog post we will examine the type of diseases and illness you could get from being exposed to sewage and also what precautions you should take if you ever decide to clean up sewage on your own. However, please keep in mind that this is NOT professional medical advice and if you have concerns about your health or well being you should consult a medical professional.

What diseases/illnesses can you get from exposure to sewage-contaminated water?

Gastro-enteritis is the most commonly reported illness associated with oral exposure to contaminated water. Gastro-enteritis is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the “stomach flu.” Gastroenteritis is characterized by cramping stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting.

The following is a list of some disease –causing organisms that can be transmitted by contact with flood water or sewage:

  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Giardia
  • Solmonella
  • Cryptosporidium
  • E. Coli
  • Hepatitis A
  • Shigella
    • most common diarrheal illness in the U.S.A
    • A disease caused by the one-celled microscopic parasite Giardia intestinalis. An outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time, protects the parasite.
    • Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
    • most common waterborne disease in the United States. The parasite is found in every region of the United States and throughout the world.
    • can be transmitted by contaminated water or by person-to-person via the fecal-oral route.
    • A liver disease caused by the virus Hepatitis A. Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea,
    • Some people experience no symptoms, most develop bloody diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps beginning a day or two after exposure

How Can You Get an Illness from Sewage?

The most common way to get an illness from sewage is by hand-to-mouth contact during eating, drinking and smoking. You can also get and illness by wiping your face with contaminated hands or gloves. While unpleasant sounding, you may also accidently lick splashes from the skin and get infected by that matter. Diseases and illness can also be obtained by skin contact, through cuts, scratches, or penetrating wounds. Certain organisms can enter the body through the surfaces of the eyes, nose and mouth.

How can you Prevent Fecal-Oral Disease?

According to various state and local health agencies if you follow the steps below, you can reduce your risk of getting a fecal-oral disease.

  1. Make sure you wash your hands after coming in contact with a sewage water, before eating and after using the toilet
  2. Follow appropriate sanitizing procedures.
  3. When disposing of contaminated items, place them in leak proof bags and label them as “contaminated with sewage.” If you have large items that can not be bagged, label them as contaminated with sewage anyway. The labels will warn others not to reclaim these items if they see them on the street for pickup.
    • Wash hands under warm running water.
    • Use liquid soap.
    • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • Dry hands with a paper towel or air dry them
    • Sanitize contaminated areas and objects with bleach and water (eight tablespoons of laundry bleach in each gallon of water).
    • Discard items that cannot be put in the laundry like stuffed animal toys or pillows.
    • Keep the area exposed well ventilated with the use of fans and open windows.

Tips For Do It Yourself Sewage Cleanup:

Here are some more tips that you should consider using if you ever deicide to clean up sewage. By following these tips, you will help reduce your risk of obtaining a sewage related disease while returning your home to a clean and livable space.

            Do the following to protect yourself:

  • Wear protective gear like eyewear, gloves, and boots
  • Wear goggles especially when hosing things off to prevent any contaminated water from splashing in your eyes.
  • Avoid direct contact with sewage material
  • Wash your hands after coming in contact with sewage water and after cleaning
  • Protect all cuts and scrapes. Immediately wash and disinfect any wound that comes into contact with sewage

 What to Discard

  • Contaminated carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture should be discarded.
  • Wash the affected area with detergent solution to remove surface dirt and contamination.
  • Determine which items can be recovered and which must be rejected.
  • Discard all absorbent materials that have become contaminated by sewage, especially:

o   Boxes, paper items, books and magazines, carpets and rugs, unfinished wood, wallboard, upholstered items, cosmetics, food, mattresses and pillows, medicines & medical supplies, stuffed animals and toys, unfinished furniture and anything else that is tough to clean.

o   Certain items like clothing may be saved if they can be sufficiently washed.


While the risk of getting sewage related disease is relatively low, you should always take the right precautions to keep your health and the health of others safe when you have a sewage backup. There are various diseases and illnesses that you could get form sewage especially if you come in contact with it orally. Fecal oral diseases are the most common disease obtained through sewage exposure so be on the look out for symptoms after you have been exposed to sewage.

Make sure you throw away items that have been contaminated with sewage and cannot be disinfected properly like stuffed animals and food. The technicians at Tony’s Drain and Sewer Cleaning always protect themselves when servicing a drain or sewer and we want everyone to do the same.

People Getting Sick From Sewage Exposure posted by Sergio Perez Tony's Drain Sergio Perez (Tony’s Drain and Sewer Cleaning)

Tony's Drain and Sewer Cleaning
I do more for my customers because it is in my DNA. When I was growing up my Grandfather taught me how to clean drains and sewers. I am no stranger to you or my customers, I am your friend and I will help and recommend everything I know to stop your future drain problems.
706 Blossom Ct
Phone: 630-596-7712

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