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After the Flood: Possible Disease Outbreaks in Kerala and How to Prevent Them

The violent monsoons and resulting floods in Kerala have shown just how terrifying a natural disaster can be. Flood waters hit almost every district in the state, with hundreds of lives lost and thousands more displaced from their homes. The waters are now receding, with rehabilitation operations on in full swing - but as Kerala limps back to normal, a larger, more potent threat may emerge: Disease.

Citizens of Kerala must be wary of the possibility of outbreaks of illnesses as the floodwaters recede. In this article, we list the most common diseases that may result from floods, and how citizens can ensure they stay safe.

1. Vector-borne diseases

Summers and monsoons in Kerala have witnessed outbreaks of Dengue, Chikungunya and Malaria in the past. And there are chances they may strike again, and with more potency, as a result of the statewide floods. Stagnant pools of water are a breeding site for mosquitoes, and may leave those affected by the floods exposed to the risk of contracting these diseases.

2. Water-borne diseases

Supplies of clean drinking water remain largely unavailable throughout Kerala. Coupled with the massive quantities of floodwaters that remain stagnant on the roads and elsewhere, there are chances that those affected may resort of drinking contaminated water to sustain themselves. However, consuming contaminated water only invites diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Leptospirosis, and Diarrhoea, among others. Unclean water may also cause skin, eye, ear, nose and throat diseases.

 

3. Candida infections

Candida infections most affect those who live in wet conditions and those who may have weakened immune systems. These could manifest themselves in the form of lesions, rashes, redness and itching. In the current circumstances in Kerala, the chances of contracting a skin-related infection are high due to contaminated water being used for bathing and drinking.

 

4. Other possible diseases:

Displaced people, often rehabilitated in relief camps which are closed and unhygienic spaces, are susceptible to other communicable diseases, too, such as scabies and chicken pox.

How to prevent diseases caused due to floods

 

A few tips to keep water-borne and flood-related illnesses at bay:

  • Clearing out contaminated water is the first step towards restoring a hygienic and healthy manner of living. Leaving dirty flood water around that could carry the carcasses of animals is highly dangerous.
  • Maintain hygiene by using clean water. Washing clothes regularly, bathing twice a day and washing hands often will reduce the chances of diseases spreading.
  • Chlorination and boiling of water is a good way to minimise the impact of harmful bacteria in contaminated water.
  • Protect newborn babies and children. Living in flood relief camps could increase the likelihood of infections. Children have a weaker immune system and could fall ill easily.
  • Take vaccinations and preventive medication at the earliest. This will lower of diseases affecting you.
  • Above all, curb negative thoughts and remind yourself to remain calm and think positive. Remain mindful of those around you and their needs. Some of  those affected by the floods may be less fortunate than you, and may need your assistance. Please help.

Taking these necessary precautions against the possibility of contracting flood-related diseases will come a long way in ensuring the minimum toll on human life in Kerala.  

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