Monsoon blues: Telangana health officials highlight increased risk of viral infections, waterborne diseases

Heavy monsoon rains lead to water accumulating in containers, puddles, drains, and other areas, becoming breeding sites for mosquitoes.

BySumit Jha

Published May 22, 2024 | 7:00 AM Updated May 22, 2024 | 7:00 AM

Monsoon blues: Telangana health officials highlight increased risk of viral infections, waterborne diseases

The monsoon season brings with it the promise of rejuvenated landscapes and much-needed relief from the summer heat.

However, it also heralds the arrival of potential health challenges in the form of communicable diseases.

The rains — while refreshing — create a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes and waterborne pathogens, making it imperative for communities to brace themselves against the surge of monsoon-related diseases.

The Hyderabad office of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted light to moderate rain or thundershowers likely in isolated places over Telangana, bringing relief from the heat.

Telangana’s Health Department said in a statement on Tuesday, 21 May, that the moderate temperatures and humidity were also “a breeding ground for various viral infections as well as mosquito, food, and water-borne diseases.”

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The breeding season

“The high moisture content in the air allows harmful microorganisms to thrive, leading to the transmission of a range of diseases through different mediums — such as mosquitoes, water, air, and contaminated food,” said Hyderabad-based physician Dr Vamsi Krishna.

Mosquitoes — particularly the Aedes aegypti and Anopheles species — lay their eggs in stagnant water.

The heavy rain of the monsoon season leads to water accumulating in containers, puddles, clogged drains, and other areas, providing perfect breeding sites for these insects.

“High humidity levels extend the lifespan of mosquitoes, allowing them more time to breed and spread diseases. Mosquitoes are more active and feed more frequently in these conditions, increasing the likelihood of disease transmission,” said Krishna.

He added that humidity promotes the growth of fungi, which can lead to skin infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm.

Humid conditions can exacerbate respiratory issues and create environments conducive to the spread of viral infections such as the common cold and influenza.

“Many pathogens thrive in moderate temperatures, enhancing their survivability in water and food. This can lead to an increase in gastrointestinal infections and waterborne diseases,” said Krishna.

He added that heavy rains can overwhelm sewage systems, leading to the contamination of water supplies with faecal matter.

“This contamination can result in the spread of diseases like leptospirosis and gastroenteritis. Stagnant water also supports the growth of bacteria and viruses that can contaminate drinking water sources, leading to diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis A and E,” he said.

Related: Navigating mosquito-borne diseases in aftermath of rain deluge

The guidelines

To guard against these, the Telangana Health Department has provided a few tips to stay healthy during the rains:

Battling the mosquito menace:

  • Doors and windows are to be secured with mosquito nets or screens. Any holes in the net should be promptly closed. Keep windows and doors shut during the breeding time of the mosquitoes (early morning and evening).
  • Beds and cribs are to be covered with mosquito nets, preferably insecticide-treated. The net should have 156 holes in a square inch and should be tucked around the bed.
  • Children should wear light-coloured clothes that cover their arms and legs.
  • Mosquito repellents should be applied before going outdoors and during dawn and dusk will help immensely. But make sure to not apply repellent on hands, mouth, eyes, or on any cuts or bruises. Also, refrain to use if you are allergic
  • Use chemical mosquito repellents — like liquid vaporisers, mats, coils, pest control fumes, and sprays — with caution as they may adversely affect health. Keep away from children’s reach as well.
  • Maintain drains to prevent water stagnation.
  • Septic tanks are best covered with a mesh to prevent mosquito breeding.
  • Observe Friday as a dry day every week to get rid of stagnant water around your house, in discarded flower pots, cans, tyres, buckets, coolers, ditches and drains. Trim lawns as short as possible.

Prevent water-borne infections:

  • Drink and carry filtered or boiled water from home, and drink bottled water when outside.
  • Wash hands frequently, especially before and after meals as well as after visiting the washroom.
  • Use and carry hand sanitisers.
  • Avoid eating outside — especially raw, pre-cut, and uncovered food sold in the open, like chaat, salads, fruits, and juices.
  • Eat freshly-made home-cooked food and discard leftovers as far as possible

Guard against airborne infections:

  • Avoid shaking hands and sharing food, water, and clothes with someone who is sick, or when sick yourself.
  • Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitisers often to avoid being infected.
  • Minimise contamination of hands: Avoid touching door handles, table tops, lift buttons, stair bannisters, and railings in public places.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough to avoid infecting people around you.
  • Use disposable tissues if you have a cough and cold and discard them immediately after use.
  • Improve your immunity by getting adequate sleep (at least eight hours), drinking three litres of water every day, and eating a healthy diet (with fruits).
  • Take rest and stay at home if feeling unwell.

“As a part of precautionary measures, the government has made elaborate arrangements by providing special beds, IV fluids, and essential medicines at all the public health facilities,” said the Health Department.

“ORS sachets are made available with ANMs/ASHAs/Anganwadi workers to meet any exigencies,” it added.