By Loren Grush
With many of New Jersey's cities and towns still experiencing significant flooding, several of the state's municipalities have issued boil water advisories, warning consumers that the public drinking water could possibly be contaminated and unsafe to drink.
So far 12 municipalities in New Jersey have issued advisories -- including Atlantic City MUA, New Brunswick Water Department and Ship Bottom, among others. When a boil advisory is instituted, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises that water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute -- excluding the time it took for the water to boil -- before consumption. Drinking from bottled water is also an option for residents.
"Disruptions to water supply treatment due to power outages and flooding can lead to serious health issues, Mary O'Dowd, New Jersey Health Commissioner, said in a statement. "It's important that our residents continue to stay informed so they can take measures to protect themselves and their families."
For a complete list of boil water advisories, as well as steps residents in these communities should take, visit the New Jersey Department of Health website. O'Dowd said state and local officials will continue to monitor the quality of the state's water supply, and the public should monitor updates from the department as to how to proceed with their water.
Health advisories of this kind are not uncommon in the wake of major hurricanes -- especially if there has been significant flooding, resulting in standing water. As was seen in Hoboken, N.J., fears of flood water mixing sewage with the water supply have many wondering about diseases such as E. coli, among others.
According to health experts, while people should be concerned and take precautions before they drink tap water, outbreaks of infectious diseases after hurricanes are quite rare.
"The major problems that we see [after hurricanes] are diarrheal illness," Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious disease specialist with UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, told FoxNews.com.