Flood potentially increases chances of outbreak of infectious diseases. The alternating wet and dry phases increase the hazard to public health. Affected areas become more prone to disease outbreak especially after the flood water dries up. Surge in diseases happens as flood water gets mixed up with sewage water and several other contaminants.
Some of the common diseases that occur during and post flood are typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A, conjunctivitis, leptospirosis, dengue jaundice, etc. Without proper preventive measures and precautions, these diseases may prove fatal. Generally, flood water increases the risk and transmission of two types of diseases — vector-borne diseases and water-borne diseases. Vector-borne diseases are those that are transmitted through several parasites and pathogens such as mosquitoes. Some examples are dengue, malaria, chikungunya, etc. On the other hand, diseases such as cholera, typhoid, jaundice, leptospirosis, etc., that are caused by contaminated water are categorised as water-borne diseases.
With the surge in diseases during and after flood, the need for awareness about preventive measures and precautionary steps are of utmost importance. Proper management can help keep diseases and infections at bay. Some preventive measures that may be adopted during this period are:
Maintain complete hygiene while having food
Treat drinking water with chlorine tablet
Drink lukewarm water in regular intervals
Drink ORS regularly
Wash hands properly before having food
Keep food items covered
Do not let water stagnate in nearby areas after flood
Reduce contact with flood water as much as possible, as contaminants may enter the body through the water
Keep away from infected people as many diseases are contagious
Use a mosquito net while sleeping to stay protected from mosquito bites
If symptoms such as high fever, headache, nausea, eye redness, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, etc., occur, immediately visit the nearest health centre. Government of Assam’s 24×7 Sarathi helpline number 108 may also be contacted for further consultations.