It is that time of the year again when the parched land is drenched by the plentiful monsoon and there is greenery all around. Farmers enjoy the timely showers as it does a world of good for their crops. However, this is also the time when a lot of water and airborne diseases spread not to mention the ones borne by insects. Statistics show that the maximum number of people fall ill during the monsoon months. Let us explore the types of diseases that are common during the monsoon and find ways to combat them. At the outset let us divide the diseases based on their source into
1. Mosquito-borne diseases
The stagnant waters and the open drains lead to the breeding of mosquitoes during the monsoon season. Mosquitoes are known carriers of malaria, dengue and chikungunya. India carries 2% of the global malaria burden and reported around 7700 deaths on this account in 2019.
Malaria or Plasmodium Vivax is caused by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. These mosquitoes breed in water bodies.
Symptoms of malaria include-
High fever (up to 105 F)
A pregnant mother can transmit the disease to her unborn child. This disease can be transmitted by blood transfusion, shared syringes, organ transplant etc.
To prevent malaria, one needs protection from mosquitoes. You can use mosquito nets on your doors and windows. Wear full-sleeved clothes to avoid mosquito bites. Do not allow water to become stagnant in and around your house. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help you to fight malaria.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the dengue virus breeds in stagnant water like flower pots, buckets, drums, drains etc. The virus incubates in the human body for four to seven days.
Pain in muscles/joints
Timely diagnosis and medicines can treat the disease. F left untreated, it can turn fatal.
Preventive measures include avoiding the accumulation of water in containers in and around houses.
Aedes albopictus mosquito is the carrier of the Chikungunya virus. Though non-fatal, Chikungunya causes arthritic pain in bones and joints and stiffness. Symptoms include
Pain in bones and joints
Usually, patients recover within a week of being affected. Preventive measures include using mosquito netting. Use mosquito repellants to avoid bites As they say, prevention is always better than cure.
2. Water-borne Diseases
The hidden impurities and contamination in the water we drink often leads to many water-borne diseases. This is rampant during the monsoon season. Boiling and cooling your drinking water is an age-old solution. Using a water purifier/water filter also helps. Do not consume water from unknown sources. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Typhoid is a bacterial disease caused by the Salmonella Typhi bacteria. It originates in poor sanitary conditions or from contaminated water and food.
Symptoms of typhoid include -
Preventive measures include frequent handwashing and maintaining personal hygiene. It is important to ensure the consumption of clean food and water. Simple health precautions like these can prevent such diseases. All it takes is some awareness about the causes and the easy steps that can prevent the same.
Cholera is caused by the presence of Vibrio Cholerae bacterium in contaminated water or food.
Preventive measures include proper sanitation and the consumption of clean water and food. It is desirable to avoid eating food or drinking water from unknown sources or unclean eating joints. A little bit of caution and awareness can prevent the spread of such diseases.
Leptospira is a disease caused by a bacterium of the genus leptospira. It is passed on to humans from animals through muddy water when animals relieve themselves. It enters the human body when people wade through floods.
Symptoms include -
Leptospirosis is usually treated with antibiotics. Preventive measures include avoiding contaminated water, proper sanitation, avoiding waterlogged areas etc.
Jaundice is another common waterborne disease that is caused by contaminated food and water and poor sanitation. It affects the functioning of the liver.
Yellowing of the skin and eyes
Infections Contaminated water and food are the known sources of gastrointestinal infections.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal infections include-
It is advisable to boil water before drinking, especially during the monsoon season. Eating freshly cooked food is advised. Food must always be kept covered to avoid contamination.
Hepatitis A is yet another viral disease that spreads during the monsoon through contaminated food and water.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include -
Tenderness in stomach
Loss of appetite
Yellowness in eyes
Dark coloured urine
Consumption of food and water from unknown sources is best avoided during the monsoon. It is safest to consume home-cooked food and boiled water.
3. Air-borne Diseases
Infectious diseases spread not only through mosquitoes and water but also through the air. The old and the young are more susceptible to these diseases during the change of season. They are usually non-fatal and last a few days.
The common cold and flu is by far the most common viral infection during the monsoons. It is usually triggered by a change in the temperature.
Symptoms include -
Watering of eyes
Carrying an umbrella and wearing waterproof garments when out in the rain may help to some extent in avoiding this.
Influenza also called the flu is a common manifestation during the rainy months.
Symptoms of influenza include -
Always wear waterproof clothes and avoid getting caught in the rain. A short course of antibiotics is enough to treat influenza.
How to overcome Monsoon Diseases?
Monsoon diseases have a lot to do with keeping our surroundings clean. It is important to keep our house and neighbourhood clean and practice proper hygiene and sanitation.
Here are a few pointers -
Keep the drains in the neighbourhood covered. They are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Do not store water in open containers like buckets, drums etc.
Do not let water stagnate in flower pots.
Avoid eating outside food during the monsoon season.
Boil your drinking water.
Drink warm water at regular intervals and keep yourself hydrated.
Use umbrellas and raincoats and avoid getting wet.
Wash your hands and feet thoroughly with soap and water when you return home.
Ask the infected person to use masks to restrict the spread of the disease.
Wear full-sleeved clothes to avoid mosquito bites.
Wash and clean your vegetables and fruits thoroughly before cooking/consumption.
Have light meals during the monsoons.
Keep your immune system strong during the monsoon.
To enjoy the monsoon, you need to be healthy. Once you follow the basic precautions, you can enjoy the monsoon to the fullest and enjoy your hot tea with fried snacks. There is no fun in being sick during the rainy season. It is always better to take preventive measures and be safe rather than sorry. Staying aware and informed can help you to a great extent. It is best to understand the symptoms and consult a doctor if you find anything alarming or the fever persists beyond a couple of days.