The monsoon has arrived and how!In addition to quelling the scorching heat, it invites a host of water-borne diseases that infect people in the country.The urgency to provide access to clean water to multitudes of Indians has becomethe need of the hour. Stay safe this monsoon season. Here are India’s top 5 water-borne diseases that affect millions, with tips on how to prevent them:
Diarrhoea is infamous for being the most prevalent water-related disease in India. It can spread through numerous viruses that are found in contaminated water and food. It mostly affects children under the age of 5 and often leads to death. Some symptoms to look out for are severe dizziness, loss of consciousness, dehydration, pale skin, little or no urination and bloody stools. A diarrhoeal attack can last up to 2 weeks and leave the individual in concern completely dehydrated.
Thousands of people fall prey to cholera every year in India.Cholera is a water related disease, and is diarrhoeal in nature. Hundreds of people fall ill due to cholera annually. Cholera strikes when one consumes water that is infested with the Vibrio Cholerae bacterium. It can cause death within hours if left unattended. If you are experiencing watery bowels accompanied by fevers, visit your doctor at the earliest for a check-up.
Filariasis is a parasitic disease that affects people who live near unsanitary water bodies or sewages. Spread by mosquitoes, it breeds in fresh and stagnant water bodies and is the host of the filarial nematode worm. Unfortunately, filarasis is a symptomless disease, though once detected can cause lasting, life-threatening damage to the lymphatic system.
Malaria is spread by the Plasmodium parasite mosquito that breeds in water bodies like lakes as well as stagnant water bodies. Common symptoms are fevers and chills accompanied by headaches, vomiting and anaemia. These symptoms appear only a week after a person has contracted the disease and therefore cannot be ignored. Malaria has been known to mostly claim lives of children as adults slowly buildan immunity against the parasite, as years pass.
Typhoid is an infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhimurium. The bacterium lives in the intestines and bloodstream of humans. It is spread between individuals by direct contact with the faeces of an infected person, mostly carried by insects which rest on uncovered or un-hygienically prepared food and drinks. Typhoid is recognised by its symptoms which include weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, diarrhoea and vomiting.
There are a host of preventative measures that can be undertaken to avoid these water-borne diseases. It has been reiterated that prevention is better than cure. If the following preventive measures are followed, it may reduce the chance of contracting a life threatening water-borne disease:
- Drink warm water and strictly avoid untreated water, or water/ice from unknown sources. Invest in a water purifier that preferably has UV technology, for water treatment that will provide clean drinking water.
- Avoid wading in rainwater or going out during a heavy downpour. Once safe indoors, wash the area of contact with soap and water as soon as possible.
- Personal hygiene should increase during this period. Keeping the skin cleanand dry prevents bacterial infection. Washing hands regularly throughout the day is also recommended.
- Use effective mosquito repellent while going out and cover windows with mosquito nets. Since mosquitoes are mainly present from dusk to dawn, close the windows as soon as dusk sets in.
- Since stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, check your surroundings for stagnant water present in containers like flowerpots, cans, air conditioning trays, etc. Alert the municipal authorities for fumigating the area.
- Flies appear harmless but are carriers of water-borne diseases such as Typhoid and Cholera, which makes it important to keep food covered at all times.
- In case of emergency response service like an Ambulance required to cater to severe diseases, call on the helpline ‘108’ to avail immediate assistance.
Besides being the peak season for water borne diseases, the availability and reach of fresh, clean and good quality drinking water to all Indians remains a notable concern. This monsoon, while you enjoy splashing in the rain or outdoor activities, do remember to take preventive measures to ensure you do not fall ill. In case of any further medical emergency, reach out to www.zhl.org.in for quick and reliable care.