By Dr Vaidehi Dande
With monsoon arriving in the country, there is already an increase in the incidences of rain-related illnesses. While this may affect everyone, children are highly vulnerable. These illnesses are mostly infective in nature and are transmitted through contaminated water or vectors like houseflies. The severity of these infections ranges from asymptomatic and mild to severe and life threatening.
The common infections that are encountered during the monsoons are malaria, dengue, gastroenteritis and dysentery, influenza, typhoid, leptospirosis and hepatitis. Good news is that most of these are avoided by simple preventive measures.
How To Prevent Rain-Related Ailments
1. Eat Fresh Food, Drink Filtered Or Boiled Water
Eat home cooked and fresh food. Tap water should not be directly used for consumption. Use some form of water filtration or boiled water for drinking. Avoid outside food, especially fresh fruit juices and food from roadside eateries. These are the breeding places of houseflies, which transmit infections like diarrhoea, typhoid, and hepatitis. If going out, it is a good idea to carry a bottle of water to drink from. Packaged drinking water is another good alternative.
2. Don’t Let Mosquitoes Breed Near House
Remove breeding places of mosquitoes from the house. Mosquitoes can breed in water puddles, plant pots ,AC ducts, coolers and even dark corners of the house. Dry up such places in the house.
3. Use Mosquito Repellent Patches Or Creams, Nets
Children can use mosquito repellent patches or repellent creams to prevent mosquito bites while playing. It’s preferable that children should wear full sleeve clothing so that they are protected from mosquito bites. Mosquito nets can be used during the night.
4. Don’t Wade Through Stagnant Rainwater, Avoid Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is one severe monsoon-related illness. It spreads if one comes in contact with water contaminated by rat urine carrying the diseases causing bacteria. This can happen if a person wades through stagnant rain water contaminated with the bacteria. It is best to avoid wading through any stagnant rainwater and also educate children about the same. If one comes in contact with such water, thoroughly washing legs with soap and water is recommended.
5. Ensure Children Are Vaccinated
Effective vaccines are available against many of these infections and every child should receive benefit of these whenever possible. Ensure that your child is vaccinated against typhoid, hepatitis A and influenza. These vaccines help in reducing the incidence and severity of infection.
6. Spot Signs Of Severe Infection And Ensure Timely Medical Attention
Last but not the least, be aware of the danger signs of severe infection. Report to a qualified doctor at your earliest if there is high grade fever, prolonged fever, watery or bloody diarrhoea, rash, jaundice, decreased appetite, excessive drowsiness or difficulty in breathing. Timely diagnosis and treatment of these illness is imperative to ensure fast and uncomplicated recovery.
The author is Child Specialist and Neonatologist at Symbiosis Hospital, Mumbai
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