India usually experiences its monsoon between the months of July and September, however, this year monsoon has knocked our doors quite early. While the rainy season gives a break from scorching heat during the hot summers, it also brings a wave of various infections ranging from uncomplicated ones to others posing serious threat to you and your family.
Monsoon, also known as the season of the flu, is regarded as the most fertile breeding season for harmful microorganisms. Owing to humidity, mud and stagnant water as means of propagation for multiple viruses and bacteria, the risk of infections in monsoon is higher than other seasons. Therefore, implementing a healthy lifestyle by improving hygienic living conditions can be a right precautionary step during this time of the year.
Most of the monsoon illnesses share fever as the common symptom. A right diagnosis forms the cornerstone of getting the right course of treatment and helps you recover early.
The most common diseases during monsoons are transmitted through four primary mediums; mosquitoes, water, air, and contaminated food.
Mosquitoes borne diseases:
Monsoons are considered as the breeding season for mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases. India faces a huge burden of mosquito-borne diseases, contributing 34% of global dengue and 3% of global malaria cases.
- It is a life-threatening disease caused by plasmodium parasites, which are transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes
- Although, it is preventable and curable, it accounted for approximately four lakh deaths in 2019, globally
- Children aged under 5 years are the most susceptible group affected by malaria
- Its transmission depends on climatic conditions with peaks during and just after the rainy season
- Symptoms usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite, which can include:
- High fever
- Body ache
- Moderate to severe chills
- Fall in body temperature resulting in excessive sweating
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- It is a mosquito-borne viral disease transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti
- Dengue virus usually produces only mild flu-like illness. However, occasionally this develops a potentially lethal complication called dengue haemorrhagic fever
- Symptoms usually persist for 2–7 days, after an incubation period of 4–10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito
- Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied with two of the following symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pains
- Swollen glands
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- Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti) and is caused by the chikungunya virus
- These mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and can bite you not only during the night but also during the day
- The disease mainly occurs in Asia and Indian subcontinent. India reported 62,000 cases in previous years
- Symptoms usually occur 4-8 days later and include fever and joint pain.
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Tips for prevention from mosquitoes borne diseases
Malaria, dengue, and chikungunya usually present with high fever, chills, body aches, and fatigue. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.
Follow these precautionary measures as monsoons starts:
Prevention of mosquito breeding:
- Don’t allow water to stagnate or collect anywhere in and around the house;
- Domestic water storage containers such as coolers, buckets, etc. should be covered, emptied and cleaned on a weekly basis;
- Dispose solid waste properly;
- Maintain hygiene and wash your bathrooms regularly;
- Properly use insecticides to treat water storage/outdoor containers.
Personal protection from mosquito bites:
- Use personal household protection measures, like repellents, insecticide treated nets etc. These precautions must be implemented during the day both inside and outside of the home, as mostly mosquito bites throughout the day;
- Wear clothes that reduce skin exposure to mosquitoes;
- Sleep under an insecticide-treated net, which can reduce contact between mosquitoes and humans.
Water borne diseases
According to WHO, at least 2 billion people use a contaminated drinking water source, which is estimated to cause approximately more than 4.8 lacs diarrhoeal deaths each year. Children are the easiest victims because of a developing immune system and it has been reported that 2.9 lac deaths in children aged under 5 years could be avoided each year if they had access to safe drinking water.
- Typhoid fever is a life-threatening infection caused by Salmonella Typhi.
- It is usually spread through uncovered or spoilt food or contaminated water.
- Reports suggest that 11–20 million people get sick from typhoid and between 1.2 to 1.6 lac people die from it every year, globally.
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- Cholera is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
- It is associated with diarrhoea, which can kill within hours if left untreated.
- WHO reports that each year world faces 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera
- Most of those infected have no or mild symptoms including watery loose motions with severe dehydration.
- Leptospirosis is a disease that affects humans and animals and is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira.
- The bacteria spreads through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months.
- It occurs most commonly in monsoons due to contact with dirty water or muck/mud.
- It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including high fever, headache, chills, etc.
Besides, other commonly occurring diseases due to contaminated water includes jaundice, hepatitis A and gastro-intestinal infections like gastroenteritis.
Tips of Prevention from food and water-borne diseases
- Ensure clean and safe drinking water
- Cautious about adequate sanitation, hygiene among food handlers
- Keep your hands clean by washing them consistently
- Always boil water and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption
- Ensure open drains and potholes in your locality are covered
- Do not swim in water that might be contaminated with animal urine
- Eliminate contact with potentially infected animals
- Get your children vaccinated if they are not already.
Air borne diseases:
Monsoon triggers multiple air-borne infections that are transmitted by tiny pathogens through the air, which results in flu, common cold, cough, and sore throat. Older people and children are more prone to infections during this season due to a weak or developing immune system.
- Sudden fluctuations in temperatures during the monsoon can cause common cold and flu like viral infections.
- Common cold and flu have similar symptoms; it can be difficult to differentiate between them based on symptoms alone.
- Flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense whereas colds are usually milder than flu.
- It is commonly known as the seasonal “flu” and is caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.
- It spreads easily from person to person through air.
- Flu usually comes on suddenly and can experience some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
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Tips of Prevention from Air borne diseases
- Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
- Keep your children away from people who are already infected
- Maintain proper hygiene by washing hands and feet thoroughly once children come home from outdoors
- Drink warm water every few hours
- Keep your homes are well-ventilated at all times
- Get vaccinated with the flu vaccine every year.
Prevention is always better than cure, therefore, it is essential to keep informed and protect yourself and your family from these common monsoon diseases in India. However, do not self-diagnose and avoid over-the-counter medication. If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
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