Rain is associated with a throng of things, most of which are good.
So, naturally, the rainy season invigorates these good things such as: running in puddles, the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof that lulls you to sleep, coffees by the windowsill, and for the love-stricken, it’s the ultimate “cuddle weather”.
However, the rainy season brings more than the comfort hot cocoas and oversized sweatshirts.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but ‘this is also the season for “seasonal” diseases. The quotation marks are there because these diseases are technically always present, however, because the conditions are more favourable in the rainy season, the risk of acquiring them is higher.
Here’s a list of diseases that you need to look out for in the season that keeps on pouring…diseases:
Dengue is a mosquito-borne, fast-spreading, disease caused by the Flavivirus. It is one of the fastest-spreading diseases at present and, if left untreated, can lead to death.
In the Philippines, out of a total of 77,040 suspected cases, 328 deaths were reported in the first 20 weeks of 2019. Consequently, this makes it an urgent public concern. It is one of the most monitored diseases during the rainy season.
The cases of dengue increase during the rainy season because of the stagnant water that fills up make-shift or incidental “basins” such as pots or bottles which serve as a paradise for the virus-bearing mosquitoes. These areas act as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes. If the area is unkempt or polluted, the happier the mosquitoes.
Further research for the cure for dengue is still underway, and definite
treatment for the diseases is still non-existent. The best way to handle a dengue patient is to bring them to a hospital for supportive care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages early detection, awareness, and preventive measures to fight the spread of the disease. These preventive measures include cleaning the mosquito breeding sites, using mosquito repellents, and nets.
Furthermore, vaccination is encouraged. Aside from dengue, other vector-borne diseases to look out for during the rainy season are Malaria and Yellow fever. However, the incidence of the two is lower than that of Dengue.
An indirect disease associated with heavy downpour is Leptospirosis which is a bacterial disease caused by the spirochete Leptospira. It can be carried by a variety of animals such as rodents, dogs, livestock, and wildlife however, the poster boy of the disease are sewer rats.
The disease can be acquired when broken skin, just like in cases of lacerations or open wounds, is exposed to water or soil contaminated by the infected animal’s bodily fluids (urine, blood, saliva, etc.). This can also be ingested in cases wherein the water lines in domestic homes are contaminated.
Places, where there is a poor sewage system or sanitation, are prone to flooding. When there’s rain, there’s a flood, and that murky water is a mixture of animal urine and faeces. Hence, people who trudge the flood, especially those with wounds on their legs and feet, are prone to developing the disease.
If untreated, Leptospirosis will cause serious illnesses such as kidney or liver failure, meningitis, difficulty breathing, and bleeding.
Unlike Dengue, antibiotic therapy can be done to fight the disease, but early
detection is vital to the treatment. It is also stressed that prevention can be done by avoiding contact with contaminated water and soil by using appropriate, protective clothing. Prevention of rodent infestation by keeping your area clean is also highly recommended.
Other diseases that we should be vigilant for in cases of flood include typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis A.
If you’re travelling anywhere in Asia this rainy season, make sure you have the proper travel insurance cover to keep you protected from emergencies.