Mumbai Rains: Preparing for monsoon-related diseases

Published: Aug 23, 2019, 18:03 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

Not only do the rains damage the integrity of already weakened buildings and structures, but also promote a host of diseases and create a number of alarmingly dangerous situations

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

India has a love-hate relationship with the monsoons. Every year the southwest monsoon winds bring with the bounty of nature as well as a trail of destruction. While the excess rainfall fills our water reserves, they also flood our roads and block our transport networks. Our streets turn into a sea of waste, debris and sewage on account of the waterlogging; making it a source of diseases and other health hazards.   

This year, the state of Maharashtra has already recorded 39 rain-related deaths from varying causes like floods, electrocution and wall collapses. Not only do the rains damage the integrity of already weakened buildings and structures, but also promote a host of diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya and zika virus and create a number of alarmingly dangerous situations, with the potential to rapidly become an emergency.

 Some of the key symptoms for key diseases during monsoon are given below as a ready reckoner:

Diseases

Symptoms

Precautions

 

Dengue

 

 

Sudden, high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain

 

  • Don’t leave stagnant water lying in or around the house
  • Avoid using hand towels more than a day
  • Use a mosquito repellent

 

Chikungunya

 

 

Headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, rash

  • Keep your house clean to avoid mosquito breeding
  • Clothing is important, wear long sleeved shirts and fully covered pants
  • While travelling use a hotel or room with AC or screens on windows

 

 

Yellow Fever

Fever, headache, muscle aches specially in your back and knees, sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, red eyes, face or tongue

  • When travelling always take vaccination to prevent yellow fever

 

 

 

 

Typhoid

 

Poor appetite, abdominal pain, peritonitis, generalized aches, pains, weakness, high fever- often up to 104 F, cough

  • Drink only boiled water
  • Avoid eating food outside during monsoon, specially leafy vegetables and meat, because one doesn’t know the source of water used

 

Cholera

Diarrhoea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, dry mouth, low blood pressure

  • Have a habit of washing your hand with clean water
  • Cook food well and try eating it when fresh

 

 

As such, one must keep the following important measures in mind during the monsoons, to stay safe, while avoiding disasters, injuries, and loss of life:

Indoors

  • Make sure to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water in or around the house as it is becomes a breeding ground for mosquitos, which can spread potentially fatal diseases like Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever.
  • Check for structural damage and weakened sections of the house, and get them repaired at the earliest, as heavy rain can aggravate the situation, and even lead to a collapse of the building, in worst cases.
  • Consume ample vitamins and nutrient-rich foods during the monsoons to keep the immune system strong, as it is the primary line of defence against diseases rampant during the season.
  • Disinfect the house regularly, using bleaching powder, to prevent the festering of insects, rodents, and harmful bacteria and viruses, which are responsible for the spread of diseases.
  • Stock up on food and water supplies, along with alternate power and light sources such as power banks, torches, and more, in case of blackouts or emergencies.
  • Ensure electrical systems are kept in dry places, away from windows and other points of entry. One must also make sure there are no exposed wires or damaged cables in or around the house, to prevent electrocution, especially during the monsoons.
  • A list of emergency helpline numbers must also be kept handy at all times, including the Fire Brigade, Police, and Disaster Management, along with emergency ambulance services.
  • Avoid the accumulation of garbage and waste during monsoons, as these carry a host of germs, bacteria, and other harmful agents of diseases, which can be carried far and wide by the rainwater.
  • A fully stocked first-aid kit must also be kept handy at home, in case of any injuries suffered.
  • Waterproofing materials like tarpaulin sheets, sealants, and sandbags, should also be stored to reinforce or protect susceptible areas and objects.
  • In case of heavy flooding and/or possibility of the collapse of the structure, one should also have an evacuation plan to safely get to an alternate shelter.

Outdoors

  • Avoid street food and unfiltered water, as these are at very high risk of being contaminated during the monsoons, being in constant exposure to a variety of unhygienic elements.
  • Make sure to be updated on weather forecasts prior to stepping out of the house, in order to be better prepared and avoid unforeseen disasters.
  • Ensure your cell phone is fully charged, in case one needs to call for help in an emergency.
  • Carry rain gear, such as umbrellas, raincoats, rain shoes, and protection for phones and laptops.
  • One must also be extremely mindful of potholes and open manholes during the monsoons, as they are often not clearly visible, and pose a deadly risk to unsuspecting pedestrians.
  • During thunderstorms, one should try to find cover at the earliest, at the nearest building or structure, which is not in an exposed or open area. One should never seek cover under trees or exposed tall structures, as they are conductors of electricity and are also susceptible to lightening.
  • If your vehicle gets stranded on a waterlogged street, please exit the vehicle or the fumes in a locked vehicle may cause asphyxiation.

Following these steps can certainly help avert most disasters during this season, however in case of any medical emergency one should immediately contact an Emergency Medical helpline like 104 or 108 for an Ambulance transfer. These ambulances are fully equipped with trained Paramedic on board to stabilize the patient till they reach the nearest hospital. To ensure the entire experience for the customer from making the call to reaching the hospital is managed by professional organization like Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd. (ZHL) over a decade.

By - 

Dr. Santosh Datar, Medical Director and Consultant Doctor, Ziqitza Health Care Ltd.

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