Stagnant water safe haven for sickness causing organisms: Dir Health
Be cautious while dealing with water, food items: Experts
The areas of Srinagar still marooned in the flood waters have been declared as hotspots for outbreak of communicable diseases by the health department and people have been advised to be cautious while dealing with water and food items.
The continued presence of flood waters in some areas of Srinagar has prompted health department to declare many areas as hot spots for outbreak of communicable diseases including cholera and measles. The health department has already increased disease surveillance through various medical camps.
The diseases which may spread due to flood and polluted water include cholera, typhoid, measles, Hepatitis A & E, leptospirosis, Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs), Acute Diarrheal Disease (ADD) and Rabies.
The areas which were declared as hot-spots for outbreak of diseases include Batamaloo, Bemina, Boatmen Colony, Tengpora, Qamarwari, Danderkhah, Alochi Bagh, Haftchinar, Rambagh, Mehjoor Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Wazir Bagh, Gogji Bagh, Shivpora, Chanapora, Barzulla, Lasjan, Pantha Chowk, Khanmoh, Natipora, Nowgam, Peerbagh and Mujgund
“People of these areas have been advised to be extra cautious while dealing with water and food items,” said an epidemiologist, working in the Health Department.
He said the health department has issued a directive especially for cases of Acute Diarrheal Disease (ADD), fever, jaundice and measles.
“Drinking water and water used for cooking, washing utensils, washing hands should be made safe by boiling or chlorinating the water. The water should be brought to rolling boil (5 minutes) before consumption. People should be aware of contamination of water. If the taste, colour and smell of water are suspicious, it is important to purify water by any means,” he advised.
He further said that any food that has come in contact with flood water should be discarded, disposal of excreta should be done away from water sources and open air defecation should not be allowed.
“People should discard any object that may have absorbed flood water as it cannot be easily cleaned. Wash the hands after direct contact with the flood water and wash hands with soap before eating food and after using the toilet,” he added.
Director Health Services Kashmir Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman stressed on the sanitization process of the flood-hit areas.
“People of the flood hit areas should start cleaning process before returning to their houses. The stagnant water is safe haven for disease causing organisms. One should avoid getting in touch with the flood water and the muck left after water dries up,” he said.
Rehman said their main focus was to prevent outbreak of diseases. “We are assessing each and every case that is being reported. If there is a major outbreak here, a lot of people are going to get very sick or worse. So we are extra cautious”.
Dr Rehana Kausar of State Surveillance Officer (SSO), Integrated Disease Surveillance Project said residents of the flood affected areas need to take steps to ensure their safety as they return home after flood evacuations.
“Floodwaters can carry disease bacteria from raw sewage, which can lead to serious health problems if surfaces and furniture is not thoroughly cleaned and sterilized, and food disposed off,” she said.
Rehana said most food will need to be disposed off if it has come in contact with the floodwater.
“Besides, refrigerated or frozen foods that have thawed, or have spent an unknown amount of time in refrigerators without power should be discarded,” she said and advised people to quickly clear standing water and thoroughly clean all surfaces and coverings to prevent the growth of dangerous microbes.
Rehana said when cleaning or disinfecting flood-affected areas, a household chlorine bleach should be used to remove dangerous bacteria and reduce the chance of bacteria build-up.
“Remove wet floor coverings and furniture as soon as possible. Break out walls that have been soaked or that have absorbed water, then thoroughly clean interior cavities. Replace these wall surfaces later. Do not just clean up the affected wall surfaces,” she said and advised people to disinfect all dry areas of the house to prevent spread of dangerous microbes.