RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With heavy rains having come through the Richmond area the last several days, the Virginia Department of Health is reminding folks to exercise caution when dealing with flooded areas and taking part in recreational activities on water.

VDH says rainwater runoff poses health risks due to an increase of animal waste present and the potential release of inadequately treated wastewater.

Gastrointestinal illnesses are the most common ailments people deal with when coming into contact with contaminated water. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea abdominal pain or fever. Additionally, contaminated water has the potential to cause upper respiratory and skin infections.

Avoiding getting water in your mouth and never swallowing water from an untreated water source, avoiding swimming with open cuts or wounds or illness or when dead fish are present are key tips for people to prevent getting sick from coming into contact with contaminated water. VDH recommends showering with soap and water after recreating in natural waters.

For more information about recreational water safety tips, visit