The Aftermath…precautions to be taken after floods
Beware of the aftermath of rains and flooding. Just when we heave a sigh of relief that the rains have stopped and the water logging is abating, we are likely to suffer a more serious plight. There will be a spurt of infections following the flooding. These can be
- Water and food borne diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhoeal illness due to intake of sewage contaminated drinking water
- Diseases like leptospirosis due to wading in water contaminated by infected animal urine
- Mosquito borne illness like malaria, dengue, chikungunya due to breeding of mosquitoes in stagnant water
- Flu outbreak and other viral illnesses due to the cooler weather
- Pneumonia, especially in the elderly and patients with underlying heart and lung diseases
These diseases can occur as outbreaks in areas where there is water stagnation and problems with access to clean drinking water. The problem can be aggravated with the weather turning chilly in December, even in Chennai.
What can be done to protect ourselves?
- Always boil water before drinking or use during cooking
- Was hands before food preparation and eating and after using the toilet
- If wading in water had occurred, please ensure that you meet a physician if you develop fever to rule out leptospirosis
- Prevent water from stagnating around your house, if inevitable, spray DDT or put bleaching powder in stagnant water puddles
- Take measures to prevent mosquito bites, including topical application of mosquito repellants and using mosquito bed nets
- Get yourself and your family members vaccinated against the flu
- Ensure that the elderly and persons with underlying heart and lung diseases receive prompt medical care in the event of fever or any breathing difficulty
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Speak to your family physician to know more about preventive vaccinations against typhoid, hepatitis A, B, flu and tetanus. Keep your home and its environs clean and make sure that water does not stagnate. Hand hygiene is probably the simplest and most effective way to prevent infections. Keep a hand sanitizer handy and use it frequently. Avoid self-medicating and use of over the counter antibiotics to treat viral infections.
Let us live safe and sensible.
Dr Ramasubramanian MD, FRCP (Glas), DTM & H(Lon), DGUM (Lon)
Director - Immune Boosters, Adult Immunization & Travel Clinic
Consultant Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine, Apollo Hospitals
Adjunct Prof Infectious Diseases - Sri Ramachandra Medical College
Adjunct Prof Infectious Diseases - MGR Medical University
Adjunct Assoc. Prof Infectious Diseases - University of Queensland