Weathering the monsoons: Navigating infections, mosquito-borne diseases in the aftermath of rain deluge

Despite its advantages, the monsoon season also presents a range of challenges in the form of various infections and diseases.

BySumit Jha

Published Jul 24, 2023 | 9:00 AM Updated Jul 24, 2023 | 9:00 AM

Weathering the monsoons: Navigating infections, mosquito-borne diseases in the aftermath of rain deluge

The onset of the Southwest Monsoon brought India much-needed relief from the extreme summer heat and replenished water resources like reservoirs, helping agriculture. But along with its advantages, it also presents various challenges in the form of infections and diseases.

After the recent rain deluge, it is crucial to take the necessary precautions soon after the recession of the water.

Speaking to South First, doctors said that it was not the rain itself that primarily causes diseases, but the subsequent accumulation of stagnant water.

They become a breeding ground for various diseases and pose a great risk to public health.

As the rain recedes, the water left behind becomes a fertile ground for mosquitoes and other pathogens, leading to an increase in waterborne and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Here are some of the common ailments during the monsoon season and the precautions one should follow to stay healthy and safe:

Common cold and cough

In the monsoon season, respiratory illnesses become more common due to the cold and humid atmosphere. Typical symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, and mild fever.

The season brings about rapid weather changes that could impact the body’s immunity, making individuals more susceptible to cold and flu.

“The common cold is caused by viruses that enter the body through the nose or mouth, infecting the upper respiratory system. On the other hand, flu is an infectious disease caused by the influenza viruses that affects the airways and lungs,” Dr Rajeev Kaushik, general physician at Hyderabad’s Aditya Hospital, told South First.

Both cold and flu are transmitted through airborne droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, or by touching contaminated surfaces and objects.

Dr Monalisa Sahu, consultant for infectious diseases at Yashoda Hospitals in Hyderabad, said cold and cough persist because of a hyper-reactive airway, and lower respiratory tract symptoms which remain in our body.

“It is also due to the pre-exposure of the patient to other individuals who are already infected. The individuals who are getting infected might be reinfected with the virus, as the antibodies which are formed may not protect them,” Dr Sahu told South First.

Common cold symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough with phlegm, headache, and body ache.

On the other hand, flu symptoms comprise fever with chills or sweating, cough with phlegm, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fatigue. It is worth noting that the common cold is typically milder than the flu.

In case of a common cold and flu, people are advised to gargle with warm saline water and practice regular steam inhalation with added eucalyptus oil.

“Taking a hot foot water bath can also be beneficial in relieving chest congestion, reducing headaches, and alleviating inflammation. Additionally, individuals should follow their doctor’s prescriptions for proper medication,” said Dr Sahu.

Precautions:

  • Avoid exposure to rain and cold winds.

  • Maintain personal hygiene by washing hands regularly.

  • Keep oneself warm and dry.

  • Consume a balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, to boost immunity.

Also Read: Prolonged cold and cough: A secondary infection might be the reason

Water-borne diseases, typhoid

Water-borne diseases pose a significant health risk during the monsoon season as heavy rains and flooding may contaminate water sources, leading to infections such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and E and other gastrointestinal illnesses.

These diseases are caused by bacteria and viruses present in contaminated water and food.

General symptoms:

Common symptoms of water-borne infections include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps.

Prevention:

To minimise the risk of water-borne diseases, the following preventive measures should be followed:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparation of food and before every meal.

  • Use clean utensils for cooking and eating.

  • Consume clean and boiled water to ensure safety.

  • Avoid consuming street food.

  • Eat food that has been cooked properly and hygienically.

  • Maintain personal and environmental hygiene to prevent contamination.

  • Consider getting vaccinated for diseases like typhoid, to provide added protection.

  • Ensure proper sanitation practices in the surroundings.

Typhoid:

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi.

Symptoms of typhoid:

Common symptoms of typhoid include high fever, headache, stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and in some cases, a rash over the chest and abdomen, constipation, or diarrhoea.

Prompt treatment with antibiotics is essential as typhoid can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Prevention, treatment of typhoid:

The best prevention method for typhoid fever is vaccination, and adhering to the measures mentioned above.

If infected, antibiotics can effectively treat typhoid, and the patient can recover at home under a doctor’s supervision.

“Practicing good hygiene and taking necessary precautions can significantly reduce the risk of water-borne diseases during the monsoon season. Vaccination, when available, provides added protection against specific diseases like typhoid. If symptoms appear, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial for timely treatment and recovery,” said Dr Kaushik.

Also Read: Feeling weak and body pain: Is it time for fever medicines?

Dengue, Malaria, and Chikungunya

Dengue, Malaria, and Chikungunya are mosquito-borne diseases that pose a significant health risk during the monsoon season.

Dengue:

Dengue is caused by a virus transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus can also be transmitted from an infected person to a healthy individual through mosquito bites.

Symptoms of Dengue:

Common symptoms of dengue include high fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and rashes. Although dengue fever is usually not fatal, it can lead to severe complications if not treated promptly.

Prevention of Dengue:

The best way to prevent dengue is to avoid mosquito bites. Using insect repellents, wearing clothing that covers the body, and maintaining a clean and hygienic environment can help prevent mosquito infestation.

Treatment of Dengue:

The treatment for Dengue varies based on the severity of symptoms. It may involve fluid intake, rest, and the use of medications like paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve fever.

“In severe cases, doctors may prescribe painkillers, antibiotics, or antiviral drugs to prevent complications like dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome. Adequate bed rest is essential for recovery,” said Dr Kaushik.

Malaria:

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

Stagnant water during the monsoon season provides favourable breeding grounds for mosquitoes, leading to an increased risk of malaria.

Symptoms of Malaria:

Typical symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and nausea.

Prevention of Malaria:

As there is no vaccine for malaria, prevention is the key. Avoiding mosquito bites by using insect repellents, wearing protective clothing, and sleeping under mosquito nets can significantly reduce the risk of contracting malaria.

Prophylactic medication is also recommended for those travelling to malaria-prone areas.

Treatment of Malaria:

Immediate medical treatment is crucial for malaria. Antimalarial drugs are administered to treat the infection effectively.

Chikungunya:

Chikungunya is another viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes, with the monsoon season being the most critical period for its spread.

Symptoms of Chikungunya:

Chikungunya symptoms include high fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, and in some cases, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and skin rash.

Prevention of Chikungunya:

Preventing mosquito bites is essential to avoid chikungunya. Wearing long sleeves, using mosquito nets and repellents, and staying indoors during the daytime can help minimise exposure to mosquitoes.

Treatment of Chikungunya:

“There is no specific treatment for chikungunya, and treatment mainly focuses on relieving the symptoms through fluid intake, rest, and the use of antipyretics and analgesics,” said Dr Sahu.

In conclusion, taking adequate precautions to avoid mosquito bites and maintaining proper hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of contracting these mosquito-borne diseases during the monsoon season.

Also Read: Telangana health officer blames rising typhoid cases on pani puri

Allergies

During the monsoon season, allergies and asthma exacerbation are a common concern for many individuals.

“The increased humidity, dampness, and mould growth can trigger respiratory issues in susceptible individuals,” said Dr Kaushik.

1. Allergens: During the monsoon, the air is filled with various allergens, including pollen, mould spores, and dust mites. These allergens can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

2. Symptoms: Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, coughing, and fatigue.

3. Prevention: To minimise exposure to allergens, individuals can follow these preventive measures:

  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent allergens from entering the house.
  • Use air purifiers or dehumidifiers to improve indoor air quality.
  • Regularly clean the house to remove dust and allergens.
  • Avoid going outside during peak pollen times.

Also Read: More youngsters dying of alcohol-related hepatitis and cirrhosis

Health tips after the deluge

Here are a few essential health tips doctors share to keep yourself healthy after a rain deluge:

1. Drink Boiled and Filtered Water:
To avoid waterborne infections, drink boiled and filtered water. Carry your water bottle when travelling, and avoid consuming water from unknown sources.

2. Avoid Street Food and Junk Food:
Street foods may not adhere to proper hygienic standards, leading to food-borne diseases. Consume home-cooked, nutritious meals to stay healthy.

3. Maintain Personal Hygiene:
Regularly wash your hands before meals and after using the toilet to prevent infections from spreading.

4. Keep Surroundings Clean:
Clear stagnant water around your home to prevent mosquito breeding. Ensure proper sanitation to avoid waterborne illnesses.

5. Protect Against Mosquito Bites:
Use mosquito repellents, nets, or screens on doors and windows to avoid mosquito bites.

6. Eat Nutritious Foods:
Consume a diet rich in vegetables, probiotics, and herbal teas to boost your immunity.

7. Exercise Regularly:
Maintain a regular indoor exercise regime to strengthen your immune system and stay fit.

8. Get Enough Sleep:
Ensure you get 6-8 hours of sleep every night to enhance your body’s immunity and overall well-being.