By: Dr. Samayug Bhowmik, Bureau Chief, ICN-West Bengal
KOLKATA: The monsoon season gives us relief from the scorching heat of summer.However, it also brings with it a bunch of dreadful diseases riding on a vehicle named water carried by the vector, the mosquito.
People fall ill as our surroundings are filled with stagnant water. Potable drinking water supply and sewage drainage system get jeopardized due to floods. Waterlogged areas become the breeding grounds for mosquitoes and different bacterias and viruses thrive.
I would like to discuss about a few common diseases that tend to afflict us in this season.
Although Viral fever is a common illness year long, monsoon is the time many more people become susceptible to it. The common symptoms are Fever,Running Nose,Sneezing, Cough with bodyache which may last from 3-7 days. Even a simple viral fever may become complicated by self medication and low immunity.
Gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection caused by viruses or by bacterias that causes cramps like pain in the abdomen, vomiting, loose motion with or without fever.It is developed due to intake of contaminated food,drinks or water. Adequate water,liquids,ORS intake with medicines will cure the patient.
By intake of contaminated water and food,a person may develop low grade fever,weakness, yellow urine, yellow eyes, nausea,vomiting due to liver dysfunction which are the common symptoms of jaundice .
Typhoid is another common monsoon disease which again spreads through contaminated food and water. The common symptoms are high fever, headache, abdominal pain with either constipation or diarrhoea. Typhoid vaccines are nowadays added in child immunisation programme. In all cases Blood tests and treatment by Antibiotics are needed as for the last few years, we are frequently getting patients with multidrug resistant typhoid fever.
Malaria is caused due to parasites transmitted through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. It is very common during the monsoon because there is a sharp rise in the increase of mosquito population .
As in monsoon, water collects in ditches as well as other exposed empty areas and makes a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The World Health Organization (WHO) specifically classified the symptoms of the disease which at the beginning there are fever with severe chill and rigor, may be associated with vomiting.
Malaria needs immediate attention and one should not wait for the disease to reach advanced stage as it may become severe and require hospitalisation.
Malaria should always be confirmed by blood test at the earliest before starting specific antimalarial treatment.
There are mainly two types of malaria usually found in India
1. Malaria caused due to Plasmodium Vivax
2. Malaria caused due to Plasmodium Falciparum…
Dengue is also another life threatening viral disease with increasing incidents every year. It is transmitted by a type of mosquito,named Aedes Aegypti. It can affect people of all ages.
During 2017, 11,832 more cases of dengue as compared with 2016,with an increased number of death is said to have been reported in our country. Kerala reported the maximum dengue cases (13,913) last year, followed by Tamil Nadu with 5,474 cases, Karnataka with 4,186 cases, Andhra Pradesh with 798 cases, West Bengal with 571 cases and Maharashtra with 460 cases.
The common symptoms are high grade fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscles and all joints.There is appearance of rashes all over the body between 48-72 hrs.
Earlier, Dengue was difficult to diagnose,but now,it can be detected at the earliest by blood tests .The caregivers of the dengue victim should always be vigilant for any alteration in the patient’s health status and should inform the treating doctor for any change at the earliest.
One must be cautious as the patient may get gradual or sudden fall of Blood Pressure, may even pass blood with urine, with nasal discharge or there may be red/ black vomiting/stool.
Chikungunya is another mosquito borne disease.In 2016, India registered a total of 64,057 cases of chikungunya, with highest incidence in Karnataka where 15,666 cases of chikungunya detected,Delhi scored with 12,279 cases.But as people became more conscious reports of such cases has decreased.
Upto July 31, 2017, Karnataka had 10,241cases and Delhi 220 cases of chikungunya. The disease has been gaining pace in stagnated water found in air conditioners, coolers, plants, utensils, water pipes and is transmitted through the bites of Aedes Aegypti or Aedes Albopictus mosquito. This mosquito can bite at any time throughout day and night.
High fever with joints’ pain and inflammation are the most common symptoms of the disease .These complications are persistent for few weeks to few months even after fever subsides.
Fortunately death in Chikungunya is very rare. There are several modalities of treatment and long term treatment is required in most of the cases.
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that thrives right after rainfall and flood. It is caused by a bacteria and occurs when you come into contact with contaminated ( stagnant)water.The bacteria released through animal urine, breeds in these stagnant waters.
When anyone having a minor abrasion or cut in his skin, comes into contact with such water, he has a high risk of contracting the disease. The bacteria can enter through broken skin or through the inner linings of the mouth, nose or eyes. It is generally not transmitted from person to person.
The infected persons may experience pain in the joints or muscles.There may be diarrhoea,nausea or vomiting with chills, fatigue, headache, red eyes, skin rash, sore throat and occasionally get high fever. The disease may acquire severe form and victim may develop Jaundice with other complications within 3-4 days if left untreated.
Though common during monsoon one can prevent falling prey to these diseases in the following ways.
A..Gastroenteritis,Typhoid and Jaundice
1. Ensure that you drink pre-boiled water at all times. You may use a water purifier at home but during the monsoon, when prevention is better than cure, it is safer to boil water before drinking it. ( Boiling of water means…any volume of water to be boiled at 100*C for 30 minutes)
2.Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with warm water before consuming.
3.Try to avoid outside food
B.Dengue, Malaria and Chikungunya are caused by mosquito bites as the mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters nearby. Thus:-
1.Do not allow stagnant water to remain inside or outside of your house.One way to prevent this is by emptying all the pots and reservoirs of water (AC trays, drain trays of indoor plants) in your house.Also keep close watch over water in a fish aquarium ,if you have one at home.
2.Use mosquito repellents to avoid mosquito bites.
3.Use mosquito net when you go to sleep and if possible fit nets in all your windows and outside doors.
Last,but not the least, I want to remind you not take any risk with your life,so:
- No self medication
- No over- the-counter drugs either on the advice of the chemist or internet
- Consult your physician in case you observe any one or more symptoms as discussed above.