A heavy flooding due to sudden unexpected rains, improper drainage systems and poor sanitation offer ideal situation for water-borne infections which can be mild, but in some cases, lethal and life-th
A heavy flooding due to sudden unexpected rains, improper drainage systems and poor sanitation offer ideal situation for water-borne infections which can be mild, but in some cases, lethal and life-threatening. Acute diarrhoea, ecoli bacteria, amoebiasis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E and leptospira are some of such common water-borne illnesses.
It is a worldwide fact that during monsoons and after heavy flooding, Hepatitis E, caused due to contamination of food and water, is commonly reported. Dr K.Shivaraju, senior physician head of the department for general medicine at Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, explains, “Hepatitis E or jaundice damages the liver and shows very high enzymes in the blood. In such cases, the immunity of a patient determines the severity of the disease. If the immunity is low, it can severely damage the liver and become life-threatening. But if the immunity is strong, it can have a mild effect on the patient.” A liver function test and serological tests are done to identify the disease.
The other common infections are respiratory infections and parasite infections such as amoebiasis and worm infections, caused by eating contaminated, stale and unhygienic food.
Receding flood waters also offer breeding ground for mosquitoes which transmit insect-borne infections through bites and cause diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya.
Dr Ravi Kiran Barigala, infectious disease consultant at Apollo Hospitals, says, “Most of these infections are minor and get cured by itself. But if there is continuous vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, joint pain or jaundice, they need to consult a qualified physician. Drinking lots of fluids such as coconut water or ORS solution helps to maintain hydration levels. The medication should not be discontinued midway, which is a common practice. Also antibiotics should not be taken without the advice of physician.”
If vomiting and diarrhoea continue for more than four days despite medication, it is time to get hospitalised and seek secondary treatment.
Common mosquito-borne infections: 1. Scrub typhus — Transmitted by insect bite; it causes fever, Eschar and multiple systems in the body 2. Dengue — A viral fever affecting platelets and liver function; can be life-threatening 3. Malaria — caused by anopheles mosquito. It causes fever, jaundice and multi-organ failure in severe cases 4. Long-term illness is unusual but people with low immunity are susceptible to viral fever and chikungunya, which affects the brain and require aggressive treatment. Some cases are fatal.
Preventive steps 1. Avoid water stagnation and eating food prepared in unhygienic conditions 2. Drink boiled water 3. Wash hands regularly 4. Wash fruits and vegetables properly before cooking and eating 5. Use mosquito repellents and mosquito nets 6. Do not bathe or walk in dirty water during floods as it might cause skin infection