Multiple states are taking a vigilant footing against water-borne disease.
Maharashtra – embattled by torrential rainfall – is on guard against water-borne disease in the state. The Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), governing body of the Kalyan-Dombivli in the state’s Thane district, is looking into sanitising and disinfected areas of the twin city affected by waterlogging.
“The cleaning of garbage and sanitising jobs is done in almost all the wards which are affected by waterlogging,” a KDMC official said. “Many houses in the chawls had experienced waterlogging for two days at their house. In such a situation many of them faced huge loses [sic] and garbage accumulation in their houses which they threw in open places. Work of removing such garbage is going on, as it can result in water saturation and further feed mosquitoes.”
State health minister Rajesh Tope has appealed for vigilance against water-borne disease in the state. “After interacting with the District Surgeons, District Health Officers at Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, the Health Minister was apprised about the necessary medicines, pills and medical teams,” a release said. “The Health Minister also appealed to the health authorities to be vigilant for preventive treatment to prevent the spread of communicable diseases after the floods.”
Tope said “floodwaters can increase the risk of leptospirosis. Citizens walking on flood or rainwater should be given Leptospirosis Prevention Pills according to their risk classification. Health check-up camps should be conducted in flood-hit areas and rain-fed settlements, adequate stocks of medicines for communicable diseases as well as snake bites should be made available, and smoke and drugs should be sprayed by the local administration to prevent mosquito breeding.”
In Karnataka, the minister of health, family welfare, and medical education Dr K. Sudhakar instructed health officials to take the requisite precautions to prevent a spurt in water-borne disease in the state. This followed a review of flood preparedness measures by the state health department in Bengaluru. Sudhakar also emphasised the importance of COVID-19 prevention in flood relief centres in the state.
“The second wave of COVID-19 is far from over,” he said. “Make sure that free masks and sanitisers are distributed to people in flood relief centres. The spread of communicable diseases such as chikungunya and dengue fever is low this year, but the department must be on the lookout for an increase in cases in the coming days.”
Punjab, meanwhile, is on the back foot following reports of three cases of cholera. “The department is taking every necessary precautionary step,” said civil surgeon Kiran Gill. “The hanging drop test of these three patients has come positive while the culture report is pending. No suspected patient was found in these areas. All three areas are located far off and are individual cases so the possibility of outbreak is less but still health teams are visiting these areas and creating awareness among people regarding water-borne diseases. Pamphlets, chlorine tablets and ORS packets are also being distributed in these areas.”
Past instances of extreme flooding have witnessed upticks in cases of water-borne diseases. Floods in Kerala in 2018, for example, saw widespread concerns over the potential for the spread of water-borne disease. It is essential that, following instances of flooding leading to widespread waterlogging, we be cognisant of the risks of disease outbreaks and work to mitigate said risks – especially in conditions where the displaced are in close confines, particularly in the context of COVID-19.