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New Illnesses Reported After Water Deemed Safe

Reported: Jan. 14, 2014 9:32 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 15, 2014 3:47 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) -- There are some new health concerns cropping up from the water crisis. What's frightening is that the people who are getting sick are seeing the symptoms after their water was deemed safe.

Mark Parsons-Justice was getting a check-up with his doctor, after a second round of sickness from contaminated water. Like a lot of people, he experienced eye irritation and stomach problems after smelling the odor from Thursday's chemical spill and drinking the water all day, before the do-not-use order was put in place.

"Just after 9 p.m. went, zone four went blue," he said "We flushed our lines, followed the guidelines from West Virginia American Water, did everything we were told to do. 45 minutes after the flushing had ended, I washed my hands with a soap I normally use."

That's when a new problem appeared: bright red rashes and peeling skin on his hands, even a dark burn where he usually wears a wedding ring. The breakout was especially concerning for Parsons-Justice because he make a living in music and playing the piano.

"These types of burns for me are very serious," he said. "If my hands are not fully healed and able to work properly, I don't get to make money and do my work, like so many others in the valley who've had to suffer with the loss of business."

Dr. Elizabeth Brown at Thomas Memorial Hospital prescribed a steroid hand cream to clear up his skin irritation, but she's deeply concerned about seeing a new influx of patients getting sick from the water now, after they thought it was safe.

"We're progressing to see more frank rashes and red eyes, people that are really having some GI discomfort, and it's a little more serious right now," she said. "So I'm certainly encouraging patients with these symptoms to have a good panel of blood work, so we can rule out other things, or so we can go back and later document the chemical, maybe cause some problems with the kidneys or something else, and we need to know that."

And physicians caution if your water looks at all strange, or smells off when it comes out of the tap, it might be best to be cautious and not use the water right now.

That's advice Parsons-Justice said he's taking to heart, because right now, he just doesn't trust the water.

"It gets personal when we have these reactions to say, 'Is it really safe? Do I trust this water on my skin?' " he said. "No. I'm certainly not going to drink it, and I'm certainly not going to allow my children to be around it."

Poison control recommends calling them if you have any symptoms and following up with your personal physician if needed.



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