Rain brings temporary mayhem, especially in the streets of Nigeria. People have to contend with floods, traffic, and diseases, which, if left untreated, can cause lots of grief, pain, and money.
The rains are here. We can feel the cool breeze and the quality of the air is improving. However, high rainfall can cause widespread flooding, and stagnant water can be a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria as well as mosquitoes, and increasing the transmission of a number of communicable diseases.
According to Doctor Gabriel Omonaiye, direct contact with polluted water carries a high risk of infection by waterborne diseases such as dermatitis, conjunctivitis, and ear, nose and throat or wound infections.
He stated that eating or drinking anything contaminated by floodwater can cause diarrhea. “One particular infection that can cause an outbreak that spreads directly from contaminated water is leptospirosis, a bacterial disease—transmission occurs when water, damp soil or mud contaminated with rodent urine comes in direct contact with the skin or mucosal membranes, he said.”
Omonaiye told Saturday Sun that flooding may lead to an increase in the indirect transmission of diseases via the expansion in the number and range of breeding grounds for organisms that transmit pathogens or parasites.
Stagnant water caused by heavy rainfall or river overflows can serve as breeding sites for mosquitoes, and thus increase the chances of exposure to infections including malaria. Flooding may initially flush out mosquito breeding, but it comes back in force when the waters recede.
Because of the weather, it seems that staying home is the best way to prevent yourself from getting sick. But because you work, do business and probably study, you can’t stay holed up in your house forever.
You should know something about the most common diseases you can get during the rainy season, so that if you get sick, you will have an idea of what you might have and how to deal with it.
Colds and coughs
Commonly caused by rhinoviruses, colds usually start with the inflammation of the throat, often leading to a runny nose. Prolonged colds can later bring on a cough. These two may seem very common but if left untreated, they may lead to serious illnesses like sinusitis and bronchitis. If you have been struck by the virus, make sure to take lots of water and vitamin C.
influenza is continuing colds and coughs, accompanied by fever, headache, or body aches. It can be caused by another kind of microorganism known as the flu virus. This virus usually targets the respiratory system so it is important to see a doctor once you feel your symptoms start to get worse, and before any complications develop.
Rainwater can fill up empty containers scattered around your house. The resulting stagnant water is the favorite breeding ground for mosquitoes, especially the female mosquitoes that are carriers of the dengue virus. Dengue can be fatal so if you have been running a high fever for three days without any other signs of infection (like a cough or a cold) you should get a blood test done, just to be on the safe side.
Scabies is a kind of skin infection caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei parasite. Their presence causes extreme itching, and rashes on the skin. If left untreated, these mites can make the surface of your skin their home. There are oral and cream medications that you can use to stop scabies, as prescribed by your physician.
Floodwaters are a source of fungus, especially the ones that cause athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a skin infection that makes the skin flaky, later causing cracks on the skin, which may eventually lead to sores. Antifungal topical solutions are available to get rid of the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.
Bacteria from wastes of rats also thrive in floodwaters and cause leptospirosis. These often infect you through open wounds. Leptospirosis is accompanied by high fever, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. These are also common symptoms for other illnesses, so it is best to consult your doctor, if you feel like you have an infection.
Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by a bacterium known as Vibrio cholerae. You can get infected when you consume contaminated food and water. Signs of cholera include watery diarrhea and vomiting, and extreme cases can lead to dehydration.
When experiencing early signs, you need to make sure that you replace all the fluids your body looses. Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than three days.
Prevention and control
Basic precautions should be taken by people during this season. To protect yourself and your family always maintain good hygiene such as hand washing after contact with flood water.
Don’t allow children to play in flood water areas. Children should wash their hands frequently always before and after meals. Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.
The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for diseases that these species transmit. Disrupting the mosquito life cycle and habitat may reduce the number of mosquitoes around you and your environment.
Find and remove any puddles of water or standing water around your home to reduce breeding sites. Puncture unusable tires in the yard to prevent pools of water from forming inside them.
Keep grass and shrubs trimmed short; this will reduce places for flying mosquitoes to rest. During outbreaks, insecticides may be sprayed to kill flying mosquitoes.
To prevent mosquito bites:
Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats. Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed to exposed skin or on clothing.
Always follow product directions and re-apply in strict accordance with product label instructions. Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors. Mosquito coils or other insecticide vaporizers may also reduce indoor biting.
Open wounds and rashes exposed to flood water can become infected. To prevent this, always wear slippers or shoes when walking along flood or stagnant water.
You should also avoid exposure to flood water if you have an open wound. Cover clean, open wounds with a waterproof bandage to reduce chances of infection.
Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.