The isolated rain showers the country is experiencing in the past few weeks is a positive sign that we’re now inching closer to the rainy season. While it brings relief from an extremely hot weather, you have to know that the wet days also come with a set of diseases that may compromise what could have been a good bed weather season.
It’s almost that time of the year when a number of illnesses - from as simple as common colds to as fatal as dengue and cholera - become more prevalent. Fortunately, these diseases are preventable and can be dealt with through a set of precautions you can follow.
In this article, we outline the top 10 rainy season diseases and how to prevent them.
Cholera is a serious intestinal infection caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae, a bacteria typically present in human waste. It can lead to vomiting and watery diarrhea which can result in dehydration if not managed properly. The early symptoms of cholera manifest as “rice-water stools”, vomiting, increased heart rate, depletion of skin elasticity, dryness of the mucous membranes, below normal blood pressure, experience of thirst, muscle cramps, and irritability.
- Make sure that your source of food and water is clean and safe
- If uncertain, boil water for about 3 mins. More upon reaching boiling point
- Prepare food properly
- Cover exposed food
- Improve sanitation
- Dispose of human waste appropriately
- Keep surroundings clean to prevent pests from breeding
2. Dengue Fever
Dengue is a viral disease widespread in tropical countries like the Philippines. It is transmitted through the bite of a female Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that can also spread chikungunya, Zika fever and yellow fever viruses. Symptoms include a sudden onset of high fever, skin rashes, joint and muscle pains, abdominal pain, vomiting and nose bleeding.
- Cover or discard items that collect water properly
- Keep gutters clean of leaves and debris that can prevent water flow
- Empty and clean flower vases and pet watering containers once a week
- Keep window and door screens closed at all times
- Apply mosquito repellents on exposed skin
Malaria is a life-threatening disease carried by Plasmodium parasite-infected Anopheles mosquito. A bite of this mosquito releases the parasites into the body where they travel into the liver and multiply. Afterward, they enter the bloodstream and infect the red blood cells. The infestation can cause symptoms like fever, anemia, diarrhea and nausea and if left untreated can be fatal.
- Sleep under mosquito net
- Cover exposed skin as much as possible
- Apply insect repellent and reapply frequently
- Wear light, loose-fitting trousers and long-sleeved shirts when possible
NOTE: If are traveling or living an area where malaria is prevalent, you may be prescribed medications to prevent the disease. It should be taken prior to, during and after the trip.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection often transmitted through exposure to flood that is infected with urine or feces of infected animals, typically rodents. An individual may also be infected by the disease by consuming contaminated food and water. It can be manifested by fever, reddish eyes, muscle pain, headache, light stools, and low urine output. But for severe cases, it can result to kidney failure.
Prevention (according to DOH):
- Avoid swimming or wading in flood water
- Wear boots and gloves whenever necessary
- Drain possibly contaminated water
- Control rodents in the home
- Maintain cleanliness
Influenza or flu is a viral disease that targets the respiratory system. It can trigger fever, headache, cough and colds, sore throat and fatigue. Although there is no cure for flu, there are many ways to ease symptoms. These include taking adequate rest, paracetamol for fever and increasing intake of fluids.
NOTE: Aspirin should never be given to children with flu.
- Get shot with flu vaccine preferably annually
- Distance yourself with a person who has flu
- Keep away from crowded places
- Cover mouth and nose when sneezing
- Wash hands frequently
6. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a form of viral hepatitis that affects the liver and causes inflammation. It can be transmitted through ingestion of food and water contaminated with human waste and urine from an infected patient. Signs may include abdominal discomfort, fever, fatigue, dark urine and jaundice. These signs may be mild among children that they may go unnoticed.
Treatment: There is no specific medication to treat or shorten the course of hepatitis A. Infected patients are advised to be isolated, rest and take plenty of fluids. In some cases, patients must be admitted to the hospital.
- Maintain proper hygiene
- Dispose of human waste properly
- Cook shellfish properly for 4 mins. or steam them for 1 min. and 30 secs.
- Store food and water properly
NOTE: Hepatitis A is self-limiting and can last for up to 2 weeks. Patients often recover even without treatment.
Typhoid is a highly infectious disease caused by Salmonella Typhi, a bacterium that is transmitted by ingesting food and water infested with human waste. It can lead to high fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite and vomiting, and if not treated immediately can result to dehydration.
Treatment: There are vaccines available to prevent typhoid. But, a patient with the fever must be quarantined and treated immediately. Otherwise, other members of the family may also be infected.
- Improve sanitation
- Drink healthy fluids
- Avoid eating street food
- Refrain from drinking untreated water
- Wash hands before eating, preparing food and after using the toilet
Scabies is a highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation of the Sarcoptes scabiei, the tiny parasites that burrow and lay eggs into the skin. It is also transmittable through direct skin contact or sexual contact. The infestation leads to severe itching and allergic reactions marked by small red bumps and blisters.
Treatment: Scabies can be treated with oral or topical scabicidal drugs.
To Prevent Reinfestation:
- Avoid prolonged contact with infected person
- Wash clothes, bedsheets and towels
- Vacuum the entire house
NOTE: Items that cannot be laundered or dry cleaned can be disinfected by sealing them in a plastic bag for several days. The mites generally don’t survive 2 to 3 days without food.
9. Common Cold
Although the common cold is an infection caused by various types of viruses, studies reveal that these viruses multiply rapidly in cool conditions. It is the reason why more people catch cough and colds in the rainy season and if these become severe, the patient can suffer from more serious infections including bronchitis, ear infections and sinusitis.
Treatment: There is no cure for the colds. But, there are remedies to ease its symptoms such as taking adequate rest, staying hydrated and consuming warm liquids. It also helps adding moisture to the air to combat stuffiness.
- Eat vitamin-rich foods to boost the immune system
- Keep distance from someone with colds
- Wash hands whenever necessary
- Get enough sleep
10. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a fungal and transmittable infection caused by the same fungus that causes jock itch and ringworm. It is marked by a scaly, red rash typically in between the toes but can also infect the hands, nails and groin. It is usually a result of frequently wearing damp socks or tight-fitting shoes and wading in flood water.
Treatment: Athlete’s foot is treated with antifungal medications.
- Keep the feet dry
- Avoid sharing shoes
- Change socks regularly
- Wear shoes alternately
- Wear light and well-ventilated shoes
No matter the season, it’s always the best time to take heed of the saying, “prevention is better than cure.” Having this prevention tips on your arsenal will prepare you for the worst case scenarios this rainy season.
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