Preventing Common Infectious Diseases
Key interventions to prevent common infectious diseases involve improved sanitation, e use of drinking water and an absolute stress on personal hygiene
Though a robust system for disease surveillance and better fortification of health infrastructure is mandatory, a better portion of prevention depends on us to ward off diseases. Much is known about common water related diseases that prevail during the monsoon and this may come as no surprise, that most of these diseases are aggravated due to faults in our lifestyle and failing personal hygiene.
However, if we choose to be more precautionary in our approach, some common water-related diseases can certainly be curtailed. So, here’s some insight into some of these diseases.
Common Water-Related Diseases
Diarrhoea is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract that is mainly caused by microbes such as bacteria, viruses and parasitic organisms spread by contaminated water, either from sewage or human excreta. Depending on the type of infection, the diarrhoea may be watery (for example in cholera) or passed with blood (in dysentery).
Poor personal hygiene and unhygienic food handlers are another source of infection. Key interventions involve improved sanitation, the use of boiled drinking water and of course the absolute stress on personal hygiene and handling food in a clean way.
Ascariasis (Roundworm Disease)
Ascariasis is the most common form of roundworm infection that is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the eggs of a roundworm. The first sign may be the passage of a live worm, usually in the faeces. In severe infection, intestinal obstruction may occur, especially in children, Other symptoms may include low-grade fever, breathlessness, wheezing and abdominal pain.
Improved sanitation and hygiene reduces the risk of this disease. Preventive treatment with deworming medications may be advised in endemic areas and key interventions involve thoroughly washing, peeling and cooking all raw vegetables and fruits. Also, personal hygiene before handling food cannot be ove rstressed.
Hepatitis A and E
Hepatitis A and E are liver diseases caused by the hepatitis A and E virus, respectively. The virus is mainly transmitted through the taecal-oral route due to f aecal contamination of drinking water and foodborne transmission from ingestion of products derived from infected animals. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain and jaundice.
Key interventions include good hygiene practices such as thoroughly washing and peeling the fruits and vegetables before consumption and avoiding all raw or undercooked foods including meat and fish.
Also, drinking only boiled water and avoiding consumption of outside beverages is essential. Thus, it is better to opt for freshly prepared homemade soups, juices or milkshakes. It is also vital to ensure washing of the hands thoroughly after using a washroom or changing a baby’s diaper and before preparation of a meal or eating.
Typhoid And Paratyphoid Infection
These infections are caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi respectively. The blood, human excreta and urine of the infected person mainly contains these microorganisms. Hence, a person may develop the infection by ingesting contaminated food or water by sewage or food prepared by the person infected with the bacteria.
A person is also likely to suffer from this infection, if he or she has come in indirect contact with the diseased person, for example by touching the surfaces such as bathroom taps, flush buttons, etc. Interventions include safe and healthy hygiene practices.
Why Hygiene Is Of Paramount Importance
One should certainly realize the necessity of personal hygiene and proper food handling to prevent these diseases, because more than being monsoon-related, most of these diseases are obtained in our own home& Thus, kitchen related practices, food handlers at home and outside, should be more stringent with hygiene.
Also, as difficult as it may sound, avoiding outside food is the hallmark of the preventive intervention of these water-related diseases. In addition, it would also be helpful to pay attention to the points mentioned below to stay protected from monsoon-related ailments.
Helpful Preventive Tips
- Make use of separate hand towels to minimize the chances of contracting infections.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing.
- Make use of nets and mosquito repellants at home to keep the dengue and malaria transmitting mosquitoes at bay.
- Restrict crowded places.
- Keep a hand sanitizer always.
The list of such diseases is quite exhaustive, with malaria, dengue, and leptospirosis being amongst the other monsoon diseases, which have fortunately received enough attention and awareness.