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How To Protect Your Family From Rainy Season Diseases Like Dengue, Flu, And Diarrhea

The rainy season is here! And with Covid-19 still in full swing, we must double our efforts in protecting ourselves from contracting any virus

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic is still in full swing, other diseases that come with the rainy season won’t really take a back seat to spare us from more chaos. In fact, we’re at an even bigger risk since a new outbreak on top of the Covid-19 outbreak would make matters even worse for our health and safety, and our hospital system’s capability to handle the patients.


So, what are these rainy season-diseases that we should be extra careful of?

Every year, during the rainy season, the Department of Health (DOH) is always on high alert for WILD diseases: Water-born diseases such as diarrhea and cholera, Influenza-like diseases, Leptospirosis, and Dengue.


In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III called dengue a permanent risk that the Philippines has to face due to our climate, and it is not impossible to see a rise of dengue cases during the rainy season. Last year, from January to May, the DOH has reported more than 400,000 cases of dengue, 130,000 cases of influenza-like illnesses, and more than 400 cases of leptospirosis.


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Another problem that can arise is that many of these waterborne diseases share symptoms with Covid-19. This is why the DOH recommends patients who exhibit symptoms to contact their Barangay Health Emergency Response team immediately so they can be quarantined and examined to determine whether they need to be treated for waterborne diseases or tested for Covid-19.


The best defense, at the end of the day, is protection. So here are some tips on how to protect yourself and your families from these waterborne diseases.



Waterborne diseases

While there are a number of waterborne diseases like salmonella, giardia, hepatitis, and more, DOH has identified diarrhea and cholera as two of the most common waterborne diseases that might affect Filipinos.


While diarrhea sounds like a common, mild illness that you use to excuse yourself from work, it can turn ugly really quick and cause extreme dehydration. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrhea was one of the top ten causes of death in the Philippines in 2011.


When protecting your family from diarrhea, it’s best to follow the golden rule: “Boil it, Cook it, Peel it, or Forget it!” This means that it’s best to eat food that’s thoroughly cooked, peel your vegetables and fruits yourself instead of buying ready-to-eat packs, and avoid sauces made with raw ingredients or eggs.


Hygiene is also key so wash your hands with soap and water frequently—most especially before you eat and after you use the bathroom—and try not to ingest untreated water. Keep your eyes on your kids, as well, and don’t let them put their toys or potentially contaminated objects into their mouths.



When you hear cholera, it sounds like an old disease from the movies, but in fact, the latest outbreak of cholera in the Philippines was reported just in March 2017. Nearly 200 cases of a serious bacterial infection have been reported from areas of Cebu and Bohol islands causing diarrhea and dehydration.


It is, however, easy to protect yourself from cholera. Safe water, good sanitation, and proper hygiene are key. If possible, don’t drink unsafe water from the tap that’s unfiltered. Keep your surroundings clean and wash your hands often with soap and water.


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Influenza

Influenza, or more commonly known as flu, is a respiratory infection that infects and kills many people every year. While flu itself is manageable, it just so happens that Covid-19 season has landed right during flu season. And since they share the same symptoms such as fever, sore throat, body aches, vomiting, and diarrhea, it makes it so much harder to detect which virus is currently infecting a patient.


This is why doctors have time and again encouraged people to get a flu vaccination. This is to help your immune system develop an immunity against the virus so if you contract it, it’s going to be less severe and less likely to lead to pneumonia. It also helps your doctor rule you out of influenza much quicker if you come down with the same symptoms.



Avoiding influenza is pretty much the same as protecting yourself from Covid-19. Avoid large crowds, wash your hands regularly, strengthen your immune system, and clean and disinfect regularly used surfaces. You know the drill. Stay masked, stay clean.


However, if someone in the family is already down in the flu, make sure that he or she does not come into contact with healthy members of the family. Make them sleep in a separate bed, don’t share their food, use surgical gloves and avoid touching your face when caring for them, and encourage them to dispose of their tissues properly. Again, just like Covid-19 quarantine, only less scary.


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Leptospirosis

If coronavirus evolved from bats, the Leptospira bacteria that causes leptospirosis can be found in urine of rodents, dogs, and farm animals. And when that urine infects water and soil, and you get close to those infected areas, the virus can enter through breaks in your skin like scratches, open wounds, or dry areas, and even through your eyes, nose, and mouth.


Leptospirosis symptoms include headaches, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), body aches, vomiting, rashes, and diarrhea. So again, pretty much like Covid-19.



To prevent yourself and your family from getting leptospirosis, try to keep your surroundings dry and clean. Avoid going out into water that could be infected such as pools and floodwater. Wear protective clothing like boots and gloves if you have to come into contact with unsafe water.


If you have wounds, clean them properly and cover them with waterproof dressings. It’s also good practice to wash your hands after handling animals and animal products.


And since leptospirosis can be carried by pets, make sure that your pets steer clear of infected water and soil, as well, if possible. There is vaccination for leptospirosis available for dogs, although it is a “non-core” vaccine and is only recommended if you think your dog has a good chance of being exposed to it.



Dengue

Dengue is one of the most common and dangerous endemic illnesses in the Philippines as a tropical country. Like Covid-19, dengue has no cure; it’s only treated symptomatically. And while some cases are also asymptomatic, usually, those who come down with dengue fever exhibit symptoms like high-grade fever, joint pain, and rashes.



Essentially, catching dengue can be prevented by not allowing yourself or your family to come into contact with and get bitten by infected mosquitoes. To do so, make sure to cover and clean any water containers on a daily basis. Drain and clean roof gutters, pools, fountains, and bathtubs regularly to avoid dirty water build-up. Stagnant water is sure to attract mosquitoes.


Keep your house clean because junk piles, old tires, and even old water buckets or containers can be breeding grounds of mosquito eggs. Make sure to dispose of your waste properly, and use closed trash bins so insects like mosquitoes can’t party on your trash can.


While windows are important in ensuring air flow inside your home, consider investing in screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.



If you know that you will be exposed to insects, make sure to apply mosquito repellent all over your body. For your babies, make sure that they’re always wearing clothing that covers their arms and legs. You may also cover their cribs with mosquito netting.


According to Duque, the DOH has no scientific data that can say that the dengue virus and novel coronavirus can interact to create worse symptoms. Although, it is worth nothing that both dengue and Covid-19 lead to respiratory complications.


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