Mumbai Rains 2020: Why caution against COVID-19 needs to be more intensive in monsoon?

Updated: Jul 16, 2020, 15:26 IST | A correspondent | Mumbai

Precautions against COVID-19 and Monsoon related illnesses need to be more intensive and taken into serious consideration due to various changes faced by all concerned

This picture has been used for representational purpose only
This picture has been used for representational purpose only

It's the monsoon season in India, which brings relief from the blazing summer heat when it arrives but the advent of monsoon also increases the risk of contracting some diseases. These seasonal diseases will put tremendous pressure on already over-burdened health care institutions, reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic.  In view of COVID-19 menace, it is important to understand the nature of these diseases and their prevention.

Common Diseases in Monsoon Season

  • Drenching in rain may increase your chances of getting the common cold, flu, or viral fevers or other respiratory infections. Since it is difficult to differentiate from the symptoms between influenza and COVID-19, any respiratory symptom will set a panic reaction leading to a lot of fear and anxiety.
  • Exposure to flood water increases the risk of leptospirosis.
  • Contaminated water and food can cause water and foodborne diseases such as gastroenteritis, Hepatitis-A (Commonly known as jaundice), typhoid, and cholera.
  • There are increased chances of mosquito breeding in stagnated water and puddles and hence the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria increases.

Common Symptoms seen in common Monsoon related illnesses and COVID-19

Disease

Common Symptoms

Malaria

Fever, chills, sweating, headache, muscle pain, and nausea. Severe cases may exhibit symptoms such as jaundice, convulsions, and coma especially in infection with Falciparum malaria. The symptoms may repeat every 48 – 72 hours with asymptomatic intervals

Dengue

Fever, headaches, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, nausea, rash, and fatigue 

Leptospirosis

Fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash

Typhoid

Fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and constipation or sometimes diarrhea and weakness

Gastroenteritis

Fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and weakness

Hepatitis-A

Fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-colored urine, and jaundice 

Influenza

Fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and a runny nose

COVID-19

Fever, tiredness, dry cough, and in some patients, shortness of breath. Other symptoms include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste/smell, a rash on the skin, discoloration of fingers/toes

It is not necessary that each symptom listed above is present in all the patients. This similar nature of many symptoms makes the diagnosis of fever difficult from case to case. Precautions against COVID-19 and Monsoon related illnesses need to be more intensive and taken into serious consideration due to various changes faced by all concerned.

Read the latest updates on Mumbai rains

Challenges in COVID-19 era in Management of Monsoon Related Diseases

In any infectious and monsoon related diseases, fever is the most common symptom. In the current COVID-19 scenario, diagnosis for fever will always be a challenge with the whole focus on coronavirus. A test for COVID-19 may be ordered for every fever case thus leading to a waste of precious resources and time. Additionally, the investigations and treatment of other treatable diseases like malaria, typhoid, or gastroenteritis may also get delayed.

Some of the cases of gastroenteritis, typhoid, leptospirosis, dengue, and malaria may need hospital admission but may be difficult due to the paucity of general and ICU beds.

Mosquito control remains the most important public health measure to prevent Malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses. As per World Health Organization (WHO) study, the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone undermined malaria control efforts and led to a massive increase in malaria-related illness and death in these countries.

Due to this experience of the Ebola outbreak in Malaria-endemic regions, WHO strongly encourages countries not to suspend the planning for or implementation of mosquito control activities, while ensuring these services are delivered using best practices to protect health workers and communities from COVID-19 infection. India has been historically known for Malaria Endemic and should continue to build awareness and implement precaution measures for Malaria.

Prevention of Monsoon Related Diseases

In view of all the above, it is of utmost importance that people should take precautions as follows:

  • Avoid getting drenched in the rain and always carry an umbrella or rainwear
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating or touching your face, nose, and eyes
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Drink water either boiled or from a water purifier
  • Avoid eating out especially raw food items, salads, and fruits
  • Wash fruits, salads, and vegetables thoroughly at home
  • Eat homemade freshly cooked food
  • Cover food items to prevent contamination from houseflies
  • While going out, carry a water bottle from home
  • Avoid getting in floodwater. If it is inevitable, use suitable foot water. Cover any cuts or wounds that you may have. If you happen to walk in floodwater, take bath after coming home and wash the exposed part thoroughly with soap and water. Consult your doctor for taking medicines for prevention of leptospirosis
  • Take care to prevent the formation of stagnant water or puddles in or near your home and workplace as far as possible. Also cover overhead tanks in your building
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites by measures such as wearing long-sleeved clothes, use of mosquito nets and repellents
  • Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Healthy lifestyle measures such as eating a balanced nutritious diet, adequate sleep; adequate water intake, regular exercise, avoiding smoking/tobacco/alcohol, practicing meditation and relaxation techniques, and controlling stress will boost your natural immunity and help you to protect yourselves and your loved ones from various infections.

Author: Dr. Santosh Datar, Medical Director, Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd

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