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july 2010
Bugged by the Monsoon
Dr.Abdul Ghafur
Monsoon brings a downpour of happiness – there’s no pure pleasure like getting wet in the rain, and it could even be romantic. But incidentally, we are not the only happy ones, as the monsoon bacteria, viruses and moulds would be singing and dancing too.

They thrive in the chaos of monsoon, making us sneeze, cough, vomit and even pressing us on to the toilet seat forever! The monsoon could literally bug us through water and air.

Kids love to play in dirty water, play in mud - and then bite their nails and have food without cleaning hands. This is also when mosquitoes come out of the hiding, spreading killer ailments.

Diseases from Contaminated Water

  • Gastroenteritis: Bacteria and viruses love to grow in the contaminated water. Gastroenteritis is the infection of our intestine by water-borne bugs. In most cases, this is a mild and self-limiting illness, yet at times it can turn really nasty and life threatening, unless you seek medical advice. Diseases like cholera are not yet the story of the past.
  • Viral hepatitis: Viral infection of the liver is not uncommon in the rainy season. The virus causing hepatitis spreads through water. This is a serious infection. Hepatitis produces jaundice, resulting in yellow urine and yellow eyes.
Mosquito- borne Illnesses
Mosquitoes spread diseases like malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya. Malaria can be lethal, if left untreated. Chikungunya produces severe joint pain, which lasts for weeks and months. Dengue fever can be very serious in some cases.

Airborne Diseases
Viral infections affecting nose and chest abound during the monsoon. Most often, it is only mild and irritating - but can be serious in vulnerable individuals like the elderly.

Mould Infections
Moulds love to grow on humid surfaces including our clothes and moist areas of the skin. Mould infections are usually minor, causing nuisance but can even be deadly in patients with reduced immunity (like those having AIDS).

6 Steps to Prevent Monsoon Infections

  1. Drink only clean water. Use boiled water or use water purifiers.
  2. Discourage children from playing in dirty water.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing.
  4. Use mosquito repellents and nets.
  5. Keep your garments dry and keep aside the wet, soggy shoes to keep the moulds away.
  6. Seek medical attention early.
Dr.Abdul Ghafur is Consultant - Infectious Diseases at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai

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