Nepal | November 27, 2020

Raining infectious diseases

Himalayan News Service
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Students splash muddy water onto each other while planting rice in paddy fields to celebrate the Rice Planting Festival in Baande Gaoun, Lalitpur on Wednesday, June 29, 2016. Photo: Skanda Gautam/THT

Students splash muddy water onto each other while planting rice in paddy fields to celebrate the Rice Planting Festival in Baande Gaoun, Lalitpur on Wednesday, June 29, 2016. Photo: Skanda Gautam/THT


With the onset of monsoon, there is often the risk of growth of various bacteria and viruses due to the favourable temperature for their breeding. And this could mean outbreak of infectious diseases through polluted water like diarrhoea, dengue, leptospirosis and Salmonellosis, which are common in this season
of downpour.

Diarrhoeal diseases

The heavy rainfall causes flooding which pollutes water resources. Flooding sweeps decayed particles, dead animal carcasses, sewage and several other pollutants with them polluting clean water.

“Consumption of food washed and prepared using such polluted water and intake of contaminated water have an adverse effect on one’s health. This is why one must be conscious about his/her health during monsoon,” cautions Dr Anup Bastola, Consultant Tropical Medicine Physician at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku.

He adds, “Diarrhoeal diseases are quite common these days as there is mixing of drainage with water resources and when one consumes such infected water, there are chances for one to suffer from such diseases.”

The cases of diarrhoeal diseases are increasing these days, as per him, in which typhoid fever is also common. Salmonellosis — an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria can also become common after the heavy rainfall.

“People infected with Salmonella develop diarrhoea, fever and vomiting. A few may suffer from constipation as well. It is transmitted from the consumption of contaminated food and water,” informs the doctor.

Mosquito sprayA risk for dengue

Mosquitoes are common during summer. As stagnant water is necessary for mosquitoes to breed and this favourableenvironment is created in the monsoon season.

“Rainwater gets collected in flowerpots, pots, tyres of vehicles and puddles, where mosquitoes lay their eggs. This is why there are high chances of dengue during the monsoon season,” reveals the doctor.

The disease is quite common in Tarai region in the country. Transmitted from Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the symptoms of dengue range from mild fever to high grade fever, headache and pain behind the eyes. It also includes muscle and joint pain, and skin rashes.

“Within two to five days of infection, dengue is controlled in most of the patients. However, there are chances for complications in some,” informs Dr Bastola. The complication in dengue include haemorrhagic fever where the patient develops fever, abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding and breathing difficulty.

“Dengue is not common in Kathmandu but quite common in Tarai areas like Chitwan, Parsa, Makwanpur, Nawalparasi among others. Travellers must be careful if they are travelling in dengue outbreak areas,” cautions the doctor.

Four types of dengue among five are found in the country, as per him. If one suffers from dengue fever for the first time “it can be controlled. But if there is repetition, then there are complications and health risks”.

To protect oneself from dengue, one must avoid travelling to dengue outbreak areas. If you can’t avoid, you must use mosquito repellents. Most importantly don’t let water accumulate in pots or anywhere. Moreover Dr Bastola suggests, “Wearing full-sleeved clothes, filling puddles in locality, and using mosquito nets are some of the preventive measures. It will be better not to move out in the evenings.”

Boiled waterLeptospirosis

This is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Leptospira — bacteria found in rodents. “Whenever there is a flooding, these bacteria gets mixed with water and enter the human body through cuts in feet. Those working in fields are prone to the disease as they work bare feet,” points out Dr Bastola.

The symptoms of Leptospirosis include high fever, chills and red eyes, among others during the first week and if left untreated, one can suffer from pulmonary haemorrhage, kidney and liver failure while jaundice is also seen.

“Though the disease is seen only during the flooding season, it might even take life if treatment isn’t done on time,” warns the doctor. However, the risk of acquiring leptospirosis can be reduced by not swimming in water contaminated with animal urine or eliminating contact with infected animals.

washing hands with soapPrevention is better than cure

To prevent such infectious diseases, follow these

  • Drink boiled water
  • Wash hand with soap water
  • Do not eat stale food
  • Eat healthy food items
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites
  • Use nets and mosquito repellents
  • Take protection from flooded water
  • Avoid travelling to dengue outbreak areas to be safe
  • Do not take any medicines without consulting doctor

A version of this article appears in print on July 05, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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