Health Problems Left By Floyd

The water is destructive, but what's in it may be more dangerous, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr.

Much of the Atlantic seaboard is still swamped with stagnating flood waters that carry a putrid mix of animal waste, sewage and, in some places, harmful chemicals.

North Carolina is ground zero, where hundreds of thousands of hogs, turkeys and chickens were killed by Hurricane Floyd.

Gov. Jim Hunt's office estimates $1 billion in losses to agriculture, crops and livestock and $150 million to forestry.

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Farmers like Samuel Hardy are left with rotting carcasses.

"I can't bury them. I got to wait until the water went out," says Hardy. "They float to the house and float back, float to the house and float back. So we just dealing with it the best we can."

But health officials warn the dead livestock and poultry pose a grave threat.

CBS News Health Contributor Dr. Bernadine Healy, president of the American Red Cross, says: "We mainly worry about bacterial illnesses like E coli, but there are also parasitic diseases that can live in water and can contaminate water."

Treatment plants, like one along the Tar River in North Carolina, have been overrun by filthy water. And in dozens of towns, floods have swallowed up gas stations and industrial plants.

In Franklin, Virginia, oil slicks are clearly visible on the Blackwater River.

From South Carolina to New York, an undetermined number of water supplies have been contaminated. In New Jersey alone, more than 200,000 people are still without water.

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The health threat is not limited to drinking water. Floods are breeding pools for flies and mosquitoes that can spread diseases like encephalitis.

Dr. Dennis McBride, the state of North Carolina's health director, says, "We'll be looking at the mosquito situation in the next week or so as to whether spraying is going to be necessary. We anticipate that it will be."

But worst of all, the health threat is expected to linger. The cleanup will have to wait until the rains stop and the floodwaters recede.