FLOODS – diseases, venomous animals, preventive measures (with captions) (low audio) #12


Floods can create major catastrophes and hardships,
especially in countries affected by Asian monsoons. When people survive the initial event, they
often have to cope with the aftermath of the disaster, looking for shelter, food and water,
cleaning homes. During these activities, there can be exposure
to noxious agents and survivors may contract severe diseases. Here’s a small list of health hazards and
actions that can be taken to prevent these complications. Water can be a vehicle for many pathogens
and chemicals, so you should avoid contact with floodwater and seek information on whether
local supply is safe to drink. Non-potable water should also not be used
for cooking nor personal hygiene. Remember that some organisms can penetrate
skin to cause infection, and this could happen particularly in the lower limbs of people
who cross areas of inundation on foot and without protection. Examples include leptospirosis, caused by
bacteria that are eliminated in the urine of some animals, and schistosomiasis, caused
by flatworm parasites that also proliferate in freshwater snails. Floodwater may also favor the proliferation
of mosquitos, ticks, flies, and other vectors, which may transmit viral, bacterial, and parasitic
diaseases. Some water- and vector-borne infectious diseases
may be prevented with vaccination. These include yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis,
hepatitis A, typhoid fever, cholera, poliomyelitis, and rotavirus gastroenteritis. However, the prevalence of these diseases
varies according to each region and some of these vaccines are part of national immunization
programs and may have already been applied during childhood. Mosquito nets, repellents, clothes with long
sleeves and long pants, tucked into boots or socks, may also avoid transmission. If a topical repellent is used, the product’s
label should be consulted for directions on how to use it properly, the duration of the
protection, and the minimum age. These repellents should not be applied to
the hands of children, since they can put their fingers in their mouths and eyes; nor
applied under clothing, where it’s unnecessary, and for long periods. Moreover, DEET is potentially neurotoxic if
applied under sunscreen. Floods can also displace venomous animals
(such as snakes, scorpions, and Lonomia caterpillars) from their habitat, making them look for shelter
and food inside houses and other buildings. Wearing sturdy boots and gloves, and long
pants help prevent bites and stings. Mold, a type of fungus, may cause infections
and allergic reactions, particularly in immunosuppressed persons. Fungal toxins may also be ingested with contaminated
food. Chronic ingestion of aflatoxins, for example,
which are produced by Aspergillus species, has been associated with cancer of the liver,
but they can also acutely cause hepatic failure. To prevent mold from proliferating, it is
important to eliminate water or moisture sources (such as damaged gutters and roofs); clean
up and dry wet materials; and remove those that cannot be thoroughly cleaned, especially
if they are porous and have been wet for more than 48 hours. During this process, it’s also important
to minimize exposure of skin and eyes, and to use a respiratory protection. Protective equipment that should be used,
if possible, include gloves, especially those that extend to the middle of the forearm;
goggles; disposable clothing, to minimize cross-contamination between dirty and clean
areas; and respirators or masks.

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