Excessive rainfall in the past few weeks has led to waterlogging in many parts of Delhi, Mumbai and other cities of India. Stagnant water can promote growth of mold, bacteria and also increase mosquito breeding. Many people have been reporting stomach infections and vector-borne illnesses too are on rise with surge in cases of dengue, malaria and chikungunya. As monsoon is here for some time, one should not only get their umbrellas and raincoats ready, but also take health precautions and measures to prevent water from collecting around their homes to prevent mosquito breeding. Boiling water before consuming it and avoiding street food which may have been prepared in unhygienic conditions is recommended. (Also read: 5 tips to keep fit during monsoons)
“Of late, waterlogging has become a prevalent and significant health concern. It not only impacts infrastructure and agriculture but also poses substantial health risks. As the monsoon season advances, the problem is expected to worsen. The absence of adequate drainage systems and insufficient wastewater treatment further complicates the management of waterlogging,” says Dr Dharmendra Kumar, Senior Consultant, Dept of Internal Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
Common diseases caused by waterlogging
Dr Dharmendra shares top 10 illnesses that can be caused due to waterlogging
Water pollution resulting from waterlogging can facilitate the spread of different waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis A. These illnesses occur due to the consumption of water containing faeces or harmful microorganisms. Also, the accumulation of stagnant water caused by waterlogging creates a favourable environment for mosquitoes and other vectors that carry disease-causing pathogens. In areas with stagnant water, diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever, malaria, and the Zika virus, can rapidly propagate.
1. Gastrointestinal infections
The occurrence of waterlogging increases the chances of contracting gastrointestinal infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. This can result in various common ailments like gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, and dysentery, which are primarily spread through contaminated water or food.
2. Respiratory diseases
Continuous exposure to damp and mouldy surroundings due to waterlogging can act as a catalyst for respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, and allergic rhinitis. The release of mould spores into the air can worsen pre-existing respiratory conditions.
3. Skin infections
Extended exposure to waterlogged areas can result in the development of different skin infections, including dermatitis, eczema, and fungal infections. The excessive moisture, coupled with the presence of bacteria and fungi, creates an optimal environment for the proliferation of these infections.
Waterlogging is frequently linked to leptospirosis, which is a bacterial infection. The bacteria can enter the body through cuts or abrasions, leading to a range of symptoms from a mild flu-like illness to severe complications that affect vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and lungs.
5. Eye infections
The occurrence of waterlogging can heighten the chances of eye infections such as conjunctivitis and keratitis. Pathogens present in the water, combined with prolonged exposure to damp conditions, can contribute to the development of these infections, resulting in symptoms such as redness, itching, and discomfort.
The presence of waterlogging in certain areas raises the risk of meningitis, which is characterised by inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial or viral infections, transmitted through contaminated water sources, can give rise to this potentially life-threatening condition.
7. Dengue fever
The accumulation of stagnant water in waterlogged areas creates an ideal breeding habitat for Aedes mosquitoes, which are responsible for transmitting the dengue virus. Dengue fever can result in severe flu-like symptoms such as a high fever, headaches, and joint and muscle pain. In severe cases, it can even lead to haemorrhagic fever.
Like dengue fever, Chikungunya is also transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in waterlogged areas. It manifests with symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rash, and fatigue, which can persist for prolonged periods and greatly affect an individual’s quality of life.
Dr Aditya Chowti, Senior Consultant- Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru ads more monsoon illnesses to the list.
It is an acute diarrheal illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Cholera spreads through contaminated water or food, and symptoms include watery diarrhoea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and dehydration.
10. Typhoid fever
This serious bacterial infection is caused by Salmonella typhi. It spreads through contaminated food or water. Symptoms of typhoid fever include fever, headache, fatigue, cough, constipation, and rose-coloured spots on the chest and abdomen.
11. Hepatitis A
It is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus, which spreads through contaminated food or water. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and dark urine.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness caused by the Plasmodium parasite. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue.
To prevent waterlogging and reduce the risk of associated diseases, Dr Chowti suggests you to consider the following measures:
- Improved drainage: Implement effective drainage systems to allow excess water to flow away, preventing water accumulation.
- Planting trees: Trees help absorb water and reduce runoff. They also provide shade, keeping the soil cooler and reducing evaporation.
- Embankments: Construct embankments to prevent water from flowing into specific areas.
- Flood control measures: Utilize flood control methods such as levees and dams to prevent flooding, which can lead to waterlogging.
Additionally, take precautions to prevent the spread of diseases caused by waterlogging:
- Consume safe water: Drink only bottled or boiled water and avoid drinking water from potentially contaminated sources such as streams, rivers, or lakes.
- Practice proper hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating, after using the toilet, and after changing diapers.
- Cook food thoroughly: Ensure food is cooked properly to eliminate any bacteria that may be present.
- Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from mosquitoes by using insect repellents.
Courtesy – www.hindustantimes.com