Water-borne diseases the next challenge

Namrata Devikar
Sunday, 11 August 2019

As water recedes, primary concern of the residents should be health issues

A Maharashtra battles floods in various parts of the State with swollen rivers encroaching human settlement, the next big challenge for the State will be addressing a plethora of diseases after the water subsides.

Medical experts noted that after the flood conditions in Kolhapur, Sangli, Nashik and Pune improve in the next couple of days, residents should be aware of both vector-borne as well as water-borne diseases.

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Mahendra Jagtap, State Entomologist, said that after the water subsides, it will take at least 15 more days for dengue and malaria to get favourable conditions.

“However, residents should be more aware of their surroundings once the water recedes. Residents should drink only boiled water and keep a check on water-borne diseases. There is a need for more awareness among people,” said Dr Jagtap.  Speaking to Sakal Times, DR Sudhir Patsute, In-charge of PMC-run Naidu Hospital, said that dengue and malaria cases shall increase after the water subsides.

“Due to stagnant water, vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria will be on the rise in these areas where there was stagnant water. Moreover, there can be increased cases of acute gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach and intestines, typically resulting from bacterial toxins or viral infection and causing vomiting and diarrhoea. Another disease people should remain cautious of is leptospirosis, which is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. Humans can get leptospirosis through direct contact with urine from infected animals or through water, soil or food contaminated with their urine,” said Patsute.

He added that even after excess water subsides, there is a chance that dirty water is supplied for drinking. “Hence, at all times, drinking water should be boiled for extra precaution. Residents can use chlorine drops as well to disinfect the water before drinking. Also, because of the dirty water around, skin infections can also rise,” said Patsute. 

He further added that the weather conditions are favourable for an increase in the number of flu patients.

“There will be an increased number of flu and fever patients. Patients should not use self-medication and instead consult a doctor immediately,” added Patsute. He further emphasised that there is a dire need for more awareness among the general public about the increasing chances of these diseases after the water subsides.

Speaking to Sakal Times, Pulak Guhathakurta, Head, Climate Application and User Interface Office of Climate Research and Services at the IMD, Pune, said that IMD monitors how temperature affects outbreak of dengue and malaria.

“We monitor malaria as well as dengue outbreak with respect to temperature. The favourable conditions for the outbreak of malaria are with minimum temperature between 16 to 19 degrees Celsius and maximum temperature between 33 to 39 degrees Celsius. And for dengue virus, the minimum threshold is 11.9 degrees Celsius. However, with floods in various states across the country, the chances of encountering more cases are increased for vector-borne diseases as well as water-borne diseases,” said Guhathakurta.

He added that IMD also shares information to the State department and the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP) about the possibility of the dengue as well as malaria outbreaks.

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