By Sally A. Atento
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol is urging the public to take precautions to ward off diseases common at the onset of the rainy season.
DOH Regional Director Napoleon L. Arevalo said the communicable diseases common during the monsoon season go by the acronym WILD, which, as coined by DOH, stands for “water-borne infectious diseases, influenza, leptospirosis and dengue.”
“We should be prepared and well-informed of these health risks for us to prevent them. WILD diseases are usually more prevalent during the wet season,” Arevalo said during a press conference held Thursday at the DOH Daguinsin Hall.
“It is advised for the public to have enough rest, exercise and maintain a healthy diet to boost the body’s resistance (against illnesses),” he added.
To prevent going down with water-borne diseases which result from water contamination, the public is encouraged to practice proper waste disposal. These diseases, transmitted by ingestion or contamination, include diarrheal disorders.
To protect children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who have weak immune systems who are more susceptible to influenza, Arevalo encouraged their caregivers to take simple preventative measures.
Influenza, or the common flu, is best prevented by frequent hand washing, covering one’s mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoiding crowded places.
“Parents should make sure that their children are protected from rains and flashfloods by providing them with rain gears like umbrella, boots and rancoats. They should always be in tuned with weather forecast and be proactive,” Arevalo said.
Flu is transmitted by droplets that enter the body through the nose or mouth. It is characterized by cold-like symptoms including body aches and headaches.
“Moreover, flu can develop into serious complications like pneumonia,” Arevalo said. For older adults who have weak immune systems, having a flu vaccine is also recommended.
Leptospirosis and dengue are also health risks this season.
Leptospiros is usually acquired through contact with water or soil that has been contaminated with rat urine and feces, which explains why people are advised against wading in flood waters.
“Its symptoms include high fever, headache, muscle aches especially of the calf, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, red eyes and chills. In its severe form, leptospirosis causes kidney damage, liver and respiratory failure and meningitis,” Arevalo said.
Another year-round problem that peaks during the rainy season is dengue, which is transmitted by the bite of aedes mosquito, which breeds in stagnant water.
Although he noted a 25 percent decrease in dengue cases in the region, from 738 in 2016 to 555 in 2017, Arevalo said the incidence is expected to increase during the rainy season because of the increase in the breeding areas for the female Aedes aegypti, the vector-mosquito.
The safety precautions against dengue include searching for and destroying the breeding sites of dengue-carrying mosquitoes, wearing long sleeves, using insect repellants, putting screens on windows and doors, seeking early medical attention for fevers that last more than two days, and consenting to fogging when there is an impending outbreak, he said.