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6 Million Gallons of Sewage Spill Into Bogue Chitto River, Citizens Urged to Avoid Water

Sep 19, 2016 07:53 AM EDT

Residents of Louisiana have been advised by the St. Tammany Parish government to avoid the water of the Bogue Chitto River at all costs. This warning comes after a 6 million gallon sewage spill that occurred Friday. Officials are currently testing and monitoring the water.

The state Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health had issued a water contact advisory Saturday. Residents are temporarily ceased from all activities in the water which include fishing, wading, and swimming. This advisory is for the entire length of the Louisiana River due to possible contamination. The river runs south from Mississippi through Washington and the parishes of St. Tammany.

"Because of this release of raw sewage into the river, we are advising citizens that contact with the water could present a health risk," stated Dr. Jimmy Guidry, a Louisiana state health officer. "Although all waterways will have some level of contamination, this sewage release has the possibility of elevating the levels of bacteria. People should take precautions to lessen their chance of getting sick from exposure to the water."

The raw sewage spill could reportedly cause fecal coliform readings in the Bogue Chitto River to reach an unsafe level. Exposure to the contaminated water of the Bogue Chitto River could cause illnesses such as sore throats, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Microorganisms in the water may enter the body through small cuts and wounds, the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. The elderly, people with weak immune system, and children are more at risk of getting sick if exposed to the contaminated water. Health officers advise residents to immediately shower if exposed to the water.

For now, the Louisiana Department of Health has run tests on the water and St. Tammany Parish officials are waiting for results. Residents will have to wait for an all-clear advisory before heading out to the Bogue Chitto River.

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