The rains are here again. Many drains will be full with stagnant water due to inadequate waste management. Some states will experience flooding and grasses will grow around homes.
It is the season when contagious diseases are on the rise. These range from viral infections to common diseases. The common diseases associated with the season include malaria, cold flu, cholera, diarrhoea, Hepatitis A, among others.
Unfortunately, children are most vulnerable to these diseases.
These are six most common diseases of the season, and how to avoid them and keep a family healthy.
Malaria is a common illness during this season. This is because of the increase in body of water in drains.
The stagnant water, puddles on the street and growth of bushes create enabling environment for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. The female mosquitoes which cause malaria usually breed in water-logged areas.
To prevent incessant treatment of malaria, keep the environment clean always. Throw away garbage. Fix mosquito nets on doors and windows. Keep the drains clean and allow water flow. Cut grasses around the home and always cover stored water with tight lid.
Common cold/ Flu
Common cold can affect anyone at any time of the year. However, the disease gets to the peak during the rainy months.
There is a mild difference between common cold and flu. Flu is mostly bacteria infection which often requires medical treatment. Cold, on the other hand, brings nasal congestion such as scratchy throats, sneezing, running nose among others.
An effective way of keeping common cold at bay is through constant hand washing. Use tissue or disposable napkin instead of handkerchief. Handkerchief kept in the pocket with virus has a way of spreading infection. Always keep warm and wear warm clothes for children. Do not allow them to play in the rain if possible.
This is popularly referred to as Apollo. in Nigeria. This is the irritation or inflammation of the white part of the eyes. It can be caused by allergies or a bacterial or viral infection. Conjunctivitis can be extremely contagious. It spreads by contact with eye secretion from an infected person.
Symptoms include redness, itching and tearing of the eyes. It can lead to discharge or crusting around the eyes. To prevent this, do not share handkerchief, and always wash your hands. It is important to stop wearing contact lenses while affected by the disease.
Cholera is a water-borne disease often at its peak during the rainy season. The disease can come from drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Children are mostly affected. The risk of cholera epidemic is highest when poverty, war or natural disasters force people to live in crowded conditions without adequate sanitation.
Cholera is fatal if not treated early. The disease, however, is vaccine preventable. Symptoms includes watery stool and vomiting.
Preventive methods include vaccination, which gives at least six months protection; access to clean water; keeping flies away from homes,; washing hands before and after eating; keeping the toilet clean and closed always; and keeping dustbins away from homes.
Typhoid is a bacterial disease. It is spread by eating or drinking food and water contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. Children are mostly affected.
Symptoms of typhoid include high fever, weakness, stomach pains, headache and loss of appetite. It can be detected through stool test.
It is partly vaccine preventable and requires medical diagnosis.
Sanitation and hygiene are important to prevent typhoid. Other steps to preventing it include providing clean drinking water and regular hand washing.
Until it is confirmed that an individual is healed, it is not advisable for the person to prepare food for others. Wash fruits with clean water.
The risk of death in typhoid is high if not quickly or effectively treated.
This is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis A spreads from contaminated food, water or through human contact with infected person. It is usually spread through feaces of an infected person.
If not quickly detected, the disease can become epidemic especially in overcrowded areas with poor access to water and sanitation.
Many cases have few or no symptoms. especially in the young people. some symptoms of the disease includes nausea, vomiting, jaundice, fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite.
The disease is vaccine preventable. It can also be prevented through access to good water, sanitation and constant hand washing among others.
Also known as Weil’s syndrome, leptospirosis is caused by coming in contact with dirty water or muck. Inflammation, shivers, muscle pain, headache and fever are the common symptoms of this commonly spread monsoon disease. If you have any kind of cuts or bruises, it is better to cover them when stepping out to avoid getting this disease.
Vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain are the most common stomach infections to get in this weather. This is popularly caused by consuming poorly handled food and liquid products. Gastroenteritis is another common stomach infection caused during this time. It is advised to have boiled water, have home cooked food and drinking enough healthy liquids.
The raining season is the primary time of catching disease through consumption of contaminated water and food. Weakness, yellow urine, yellowing of eyes, vomiting and liver dysfunction are the symptoms of jaundice and should be looked out for immediately. As mentioned above, drinking boiled water, sticking to home cooked food and avoiding street
Prevention and Control
Basic precautions should be taken by people travelling to or living near risk areas. To protect yourself, your family, and your community:
• Always maintain good hygiene (handwashing) after contact with flood water;
• Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.
• Wash children’s hands frequently (always before meals).
• Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.
The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for diseases that these species transmit. Disrupting the mosquito life cycle and habitat may reduce the number of mosquitoes around you and your environment.
• Find and remove any puddles of water or standing water around your home to reduce breeding sites.
• Puncture unusable tires in the yard to prevent pools of water from forming inside them.
• Wipe out your bird-bath and pet water bowls every few days.
• Keep grass and shrubs trimmed short; this will reduce places for flying mosquitoes to rest.
• Consider adding mosquito fish to your water garden or small pond if it’s not connected to natural water.
• During outbreaks, insecticides may be sprayed to kill flying mosquitoes.
Open wounds and rashes exposed to flood water can become infected. How can we prevent this?
• Always wear slippers or shoes when walking along flood or stagnant water.
• Avoid exposure to flood water if you have an open wound.
• Cover clean, open wounds with a waterproof bandage to reduce chances of infection.
• Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water.
• If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.