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Floods pose health risks: what to watch out for and how to avoid – SABC News

recently in South Africa heavy rain This has caused flooding in some areas. In the coastal city of Durban, the aftermath has left hundreds dead and displaced families. Water pipes, sewers and roads were also damaged. Juno Thomas and Linda Erasmus, public health experts at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, explain what types of health risks can arise as a result of flood disasters and what actions can be taken.


What health risks do floods pose?

Flood disasters pose five categories of health risks.

  • Acute events: drowning and trauma
  • Non-communicable diseases: People with chronic conditions may not be able to access health care or get the medications they need.
  • Healthcare Infrastructure: Damage or disruption of healthcare infrastructure and systems
  • Mental Health: Anxiety, Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Epidemic

How do floods pose a risk of infection?

Damage or disruption to environmental health infrastructure and services (water and sewer systems) increases the risk of waterborne and foodborne diseases. Population shifts and overcrowding, often caused by floods, provide optimal conditions for the development of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Factors contributing to such an environment include poor hygiene standards, close contact between people, poor hygiene, poor nutrition and poor food safety.

There are four main types of infection. skin; respiratory system; Camouflage; and zoonoses (transmitted between animals and humans) or vector-borne (transmitted by the bite of an infected arthropod species such as a mosquito or tick).

Skin infections: Skin and soft tissue infections can occur after trauma. For example, if someone was cut by a fallen tree branch while cleaning after a flood. These infections are often caused by bacterial causes typical of skin and soft tissue infections. However, fungal infections can also occur.

Respiratory infections: Acute respiratory infections such as cough, cold, influenza and pneumonia are common after flood disasters. House collapse and overcrowding increase the risk of sharing these disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

Gastrointestinal diseases: This includes cholera, dysentery And fever. It is caused by eating food or water contaminated with bacteria. Contamination often comes from the feces of infected people.

Most people infected with bacteria that cause cholera Do not show symptoms. About 10% become severely ill with diarrhea and soon become severely dehydrated. Cholera can be fatal if left untreated. Mild cases are treated with oral fluids. In more severe cases, intravenous fluids and appropriate antibiotics may be needed.

symptoms of dysentery, bacterial infections include watery or bloody diarrhea (dysentery), fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting and abdominal cramps. Severe infections and high fever can cause seizures in young children. Complications may come later.

fever Symptoms include fever, headache, stomach pain, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.

Contaminated water can also contain other bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Children are usually at an increased risk of infections that can result from these infections. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.

hepatitis A It is caused by a virus that is transmitted through the fecal-oral route, ingesting contaminated food and water, or through close contact with an infected person. Symptoms include fever, malaise, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice.

zoonotic and vector-borne diseases: Flood disasters can change the physical environment, increasing the reproduction of some animals and disease vectors. For example, stagnant water provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

leptospirosis A bacterial disease transmitted to humans through direct contact with animal hosts (rodents, pets, livestock) or through an environment contaminated with animal urine. It is increasingly recognized as an important infection associated with flood disasters.

People who come in direct contact with flood waters (such as swimming or walking) contaminated with the urine of infected animals are at increased risk of infection. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, redness, abdominal pain, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes a rash.

Malaria is caused by: Plasmodium spp. Parasite transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, sweating, chills, headache, muscle or joint pain, malaise, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Urgent diagnosis and treatment according to national guidelines It is important to prevent complications and death. South Africa’s malaria-spreading zone includes northeastern KwaZulu-Natal and the low-altitude areas of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, particularly bordering Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Eswatini.

Rift Valley craze It mainly affects livestock, but humans can become infected through bites. Aides mosquito. It can also be transmitted by eating unpasteurized milk or meat from infected dead animals, or through contact with the blood or tissues of these animals. Heavy rains and floods can trigger outbreaks of this fever among animals. Most affected people have flu-like illness.

west nile virus The disease is transmitted to humans through bite wounds. Culex mosquito. Most infected people have no symptoms, but common symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle or joint pain, diarrhea, and a rash. Encephalitis or meningitis may develop.

How can I prevent infection after a flood?

It is important to ensure that affected communities have access to safe drinking water. Uninterrupted and safe water supply, safe wastewater treatment and solid waste treatment are key to preventing large-scale outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

Health education is an important preventive measure. Messages should focus on safe water, hand hygiene and food safety.

You can make water safe for drinking or cooking by boiling water in a clean container for 1 minute. Another option is to mix 1 teaspoon of household bleach (with 5% chlorine) in 20-25 liters of water and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before use.

It is important to wash your hands with soap and safe water before, during, and after preparing food, and before and after eating. Also, wash your hands before and after caring for someone who is sick, after using the bathroom, and after cleaning your child.

of the World Health Organization five keys For safer food: keep it clean. Separate raw and cooked. Cook thoroughly. Store food at a safe temperature. We use safe water and raw materials.

Juno ThomasSmall intestine: Intestinal Disease Center, National Institute of Infectious Diseases And Linda ErasmusMedical epidemiologist: Intestinal Disease Center,, National Institute of Infectious Diseases

This article is conversation Under Creative Commons License. read original article.

Floods pose health risks: what to watch out for and how to avoid – SABC News

Source link Floods pose health risks: what to watch out for and how to avoid – SABC News

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