Nepal | January 18, 2021

Threat of diseases looms after deluge

Sabitri Dhakal
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Kathmandu, July 16

People living in flood-hit areas are under higher risk of bacterial infections, snakebites and mosquito-borne illnesses, besides increased threat of drowning and hypothermia, warn experts.

There is a risk of outbreak of infectious diseases, such as diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, Hepatitis A and E and typhoid in flood-hit areas within a week, Khem Raj Bhusal, consultant physician at Green City Hospital, Basundhara, told THT.

Rise in temperature after rains is ideal for bacterial growth, making the elderly, children and sick people vulnerable, said Bhusal.

“To prevent diseases from spreading we have sent three medical teams to Pathlaiya, Bardibas and Lahan,” said Chudamani Bhandari, chief, Health Emergency Operation Centre, at the Ministry of Health and Population.

Five cases of diarrhoea have already been reported in Saptari. “We need to be careful with water and toilet management and ensure purified water, shelter and food for those living in flood-hit areas,” said Prakash Prasad Shah, senior health administrator at Epidemiology and Outbreak Management Section, Teku.

Another disease that threatens flood-hit areas is leptospirosis. It is caused by animal urine and can be fatal. People contract it after coming in contact with water contaminated by animal urine. Leptospira bacteria are carried by rats, cows and dogs. It can survive in water and soil for months, said Bhusal. Since people live near animals in flood-hit districts, there is high risk of contracting leptospirosis.

Health experts have also warned of transmission of dengue and malaria.

In addition to the above-mentioned diseases, people living in flood hit areas should watch out for snakes, say experts.  Snakebites have been reported in Rautahat. “Floodwater enters nesting holes of snakes, forcing them to come out in the open. They then start looking for dry areas and come in close contact with humans,” said Bhusal.

Additional 1,100 vials of anti-snake venom have been sent to Province 2 after snakebite cases were reported, said Shah.


A version of this article appears in print on July 17, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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