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Flood fury: health dos and don'ts

By Ehtasham Khan
August 03, 2005 14:38 IST
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Incessant rains have devastated most of Maharashtra and are lashing southern Gujarat and parts of Central India. The downpour is likely to increase in some areas as the monsoon advances.

The resultant water logging due to floods, brings with it many diseases. In the absence of adequate healthcare facilities, these have the potential of turning into epidemics.

Dr K K Aggarwal, president of the Delhi Medical Association (DMA), has some tips for the thousands of flood-affected people.

The problems can be divided in two categories:

  • Psychological problems (also known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders)
  • Physical problems

PTSD causes anxiety and depression. In some cases, people may develop water phobia.

Also read: PTSD: Post traumatic stress disorder

Physical problems could be of two types.

  • Physical injuries, caused by roof collapse or electric shocks, which can be treated at hospitals and by first aid health workers and volunteers immediately. Scratches and cuts should not be allowed to remain open.
  • But the more dangerous health-related problems are the water-borne diseases. Common health disorders like Hepatitis A and E, typhoid, jaundice, cholera and gastroenteritis are caused due to water-logging.

This could then spread to other parts of the cities and towns. The problems could be severe in slums and congested neighbourhoods. Therefore, Mumbai residents have to take extra precautions.

Aggarwal says so far no epidemic has been reported from the flood-hit areas but cases pertaining to these diseases are bound to increase. It is up to the government to control these cases and not let it become epidemic.

The DMA president offers some words of advice for the city's residents:

  • Beware of the following symptoms: Dysentery, fever, sneezing, coughing and headache. If these symptoms remain for more than five days, better see a doctor. Precaution is better than cure.
  • Remember: Peel it, boil it, cook it and forget it. Anything which can be peeled off and eaten -- like bananas -- is free of germs. So go for it. Anything which can be boiled -- like water and vegetables -- should be boiled before use. Anything which can be cooked -- like vegetables and meat -- should be cooked properly.

And the rest, forget it. If one takes these precautions, there will not be any problem.

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Mumbai Help

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Ehtasham Khan