Dead fish are a familiar sight in rivers and creeks across the east after hurricane Irene, and the North Carolina Division of Public Health warns people to avoid eating or touching the dead fish.
State health director Dr. Jeff Engel says fish kills often result from low oxygen levels in the water, but after a hurricane and flooding, they can not rule out chemical contamination. They also suggest people avoid swimming in water where dead fish have been found.
WITN has received many reports of bad odors coming from waterways across the east, and one person says we haven't smelled the worst of it yet.
Dead fish are washing ashore by the hundreds in some areas because oxygen levels all but disappeared in the water during hurricane Irene. Officials at the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington say they expect thousands more dead fish have yet to surface, but that's not the only thing we're smelling.
"A lot of what you smell is hydrogen sulfide, and that comes from masses of decaying plant material up in the swamps and marshes back in there up the river and places that have been flushed out by the storm,"said Estuarium Manager Blount Rumley.
Rumley says although it smells bad now, it is part of a natural process and within a few weeks the water should return to normal.