A nightmare for any homeowner, having a sewage backup is among the most troubling situations that a person can face. More than just throwing a serious wrench in any plans you had for the day, a sewer backup also has the potential to threaten serious health risks and create long-term property damage. Sewage contains viruses, bacteria, and all sorts of other contaminants that can spread serious illness and disease to your family and your pets.
Wastewater is also full of other toxic substances like fungi, protozoan, pesticides, and residuals from medications. Sewer backup risks often occur in the basements of houses, which need to be dealt with swiftly. Just to paint a clearer picture, here are eight health risks of sewage backup in basements:
An infection by the Campylobacter bacterium, Campylobacteriosis is among the most common bacterial infections of humans and is often a foodborne illness. Symptoms of this disease include fever, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Even more severe complications can arise in young children or people who are immune compromised.
A particularly disturbing illness caused by tiny, one-celled cryptosporidium parasites. When cryptosporidia enter your body, they travel to your small intestine and then burrow into the walls of your digestive tract. This waterborne disease causes a slight fever, diarrhea, loose or watery stools, upset stomach, and stomach cramps.
3. Diarrheagenic (E. coli)
E. coli are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. They are a large and diverse group of bacteria, but although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you very sick. Diarrheagenic E. coli is one of those and drinking fecal-contaminated water can expose you to E. coli, resulting in fever, watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
Also known more commonly as the “stomach flu,” (although it is not related to influenza) this infection causes fever, watery diarrhea, headaches, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Lack of energy and dehydration may also occur. This particular infection typically lasts less than two weeks.
Giardiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by the microscopic parasite Giardia. This is a type of organism that feeds off of another to survive. Once a person or animal has been infected with Giardia, the parasite lives in the intestines and is passed in feces. Once contracted, this disease causes diarrhea, loose or watery stools, upset stomach, and stomach cramps.
6. Hepatitis A
This viral liver disease is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea.
This health risk is caused by exposure to Salmonella and can cause fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms typically occur between 12 hours and 36 hours after exposure, and last from two to seven days.
Ingesting contaminated fecal water can Dysentery, which is an inflammatory disease of the intestine, especially of the colon, which always results in severe diarrhea and abdominal pains. Other symptoms can include fever and stomach cramps.
9. Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever is another type of acute illness associated with fever caused by the Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi bacteria. It can also be caused by Salmonella paratyphi, a related bacterium that usually causes a less severe illness. Spread through contaminated food and water, this disease causes high fever, weakness, cough, headaches, stomach pains, loss of appetite, and some people also experience a rash.
What to do if there is a backup sewage in your basement
It can be overwhelming when you discover a backup sewage in your basement, especially now that you know the health risks associated with this condition. It is definitely true that a backup is best avoided, but in the ended that it does happen, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your family.
First of all, you should evacuate the flooded area and turn off all electrical power. If you have to access the main circuit in the basement, wear protective clothing like a facemask, eyeglasses, gloves, and rubber boots before walking through sewage water. Next, contact a plumber for professional assistance, since you will need their help to make any emergency repairs.
Notify your municipal authority
Once the immediate panic is under control, you need to notify your municipal authority or sewer department, especially if your home is connected to a public sewer. Following this, you should definitely not use the water supply system in your home until the backup problem is fixed, that means no flushing toilets or draining tubs and sinks.
It is also a good idea to create as much air flow in the space as possible. You should open windows or doors to let fresh air in and ventilate the area. Finally, if you have it available, add some chlorine bleach to the standing water to disinfect it a little.