Aftermath of Floods: Hardships and Getting On with Life
No one has the power to control the wrath of the nature. When the nature bestows its fury on the mankind then how puny the human beings are compared to the forces of nature can be understood. Earth’s fury knows no boundaries it kills, destroys and leaves everything devastated. But life must go on so as the phoenix rises from the ashes in the same way the human civilisation also stands firm and rebuild everything on the ashes of devastation. Flood is such an example of nature. Due to floods lots of lives are lost and harvests of crops as well as acres of properties are damaged every year. A scythe of death and sorrow strikes the civilisation masqueraded as flood. The real pain and hardship comes after the flooding. Everything gets covered under water yet people die out of acute thirst for clean water. Several water-borne diseases and vector-borne diseases spread. The symphony of life gets converted into the screams of death.
But human race has always found a way to live through the hardships posed on them and every time they have stood victorious in the contest of living. Although stricken by grieve and sorrow, life prevails after flooding and again the sun rises to welcome a bright new day. This article aims at providing awareness to people about the diseases that spread after the flood and also instructs a person how to survive against the threats posed by those diseases.
DISEASES SPREAD IN THE AFTERMATH OF FLOOD:
Plethora of health risks and diseases strikes after the flood. Every risk that is posed on the humans is fatal if not treated properly and immediately. Flood increases the chances of transmission of various communicable diseases throughout the flooded area. The communicable diseases are divided into two categories water-borne diseases and vector-borne diseases. Typhoid, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis A are considered as water-borne diseases while the malaria, dengue, dengue haemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, West Nile Fever are considered as vector-borne diseases. If no immediate action is taken to curb the diseases from spreading it can take the form of epidemic. There are other various health risks too like the risks posed by the corpses of people and animal died in the flood. In the points given below the diseases and risks that surface in the aftermath of the flood are discussed thoroughly.
Flooding is linked with the increase of spreading of different types of communicable diseases and the contamination of fresh water resources. Water-borne diseases form the first category of the communicable diseases. The water resources get contaminated with several pollutants and infectious entities which lead in the widespread of several contaminable infections. The major floods that have occurred throughout the world until this day has led to the outbreak of diarrhoeal disease in an epidemic form. The main reason behind it is the contamination of the drinking water resources. Flood causes damage to the sewage system and hazardous chemicals or germs mix with the fresh waters. Main diseases that are water-borne are diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis.
The risk of getting infected to a water-borne disease increases with the direct contact of body parts with the polluted water. Within all the diseases that spread through direct contact, there is only one disease that can take the form of epidemic is leptospirosis. The disease spreads when the water gets infected by the contact of skin and mucous membrane with water. The widespread of these diseases can be curbed by providing fresh water, medications and proper vaccinations to the flood stricken people.
The stagnant water after the flood increases the risk of production of many vectors like mosquitoes, thus increasing the risk of widespread of several vector-borne diseases. The stagnant water due to the rains or overflow of rivers acts as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies. This enhances the risk of exposure of the grief stricken population and rescue workers to get infected by vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, yellow fever, West Nile fever etc. The flooding initially flashes the mosquitoes but after the water recedes it becomes the favourite breeding zone of the mosquitoes. There are high chances of malaria taking an epidemic form within 6-8 weeks of the flooding. The complicated human behaviour and activities after a disaster also leads to the exposure to the vector-borne diseases.
3.Risks posed by the dead
In contrast to the common beliefs there are no heavy evidences that the dead bodies can give rise to epidemics after the flooding. Most of the germs do not survive after the death of a human being. Human corpses only create health risks in some specific cases like in the deaths from haemorrhagic fevers or cholera. However, corpses can spread some health risks like tuberculosis, blood-borne viruses and gastrointestinal infections. Tuberculosis is mainly air-borne and can spread if the virus gets aerosolised somehow. The blood-borne diseases can create risks with the direct contact of a person with wounds or intact blood of the dead body. And the gastrointestinal diseases are spread commonly by the leakage of faeces into from the dead bodies which contaminates the water resources thus creating a risk of widespread. This is why the public and other non-governmental workers are requested to dispose the bodies in a proper way to avoid the contamination.
4.Other health risks
The others risks include the injury or trauma from the flooding. Injuries or wounds can lead to the various infections like tetanus. So vaccination programs are to be conducted to curb this disease. Another risk that the flood waters pose is hypothermia. It affects the children particularly. If anyone gets trapped in the flood waters for a prolonged time period then it can cause hypothermia and respiratory tract problems as well.
The diseases that are caused by the flooding are nothing but fatal. That is why proper preventive measures should always be taken. Preventive measures help a person to protect himself from the various health risks posed by the flooding. Risk of getting infected to communicable diseases is greatly reduced if the following preventive measures are being followed.
- Chlorination of water– The supply of uncontaminated drinking water to the disaster affected people is the most important preventive measure that can be taken. It reduces the outbreak of water-borne diseases to a great extent. Free chlorine is the most cheap, easily available yet effective water disinfectant. It kills or inactivates at least 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. The concentration of chlorine to be used depends on the concentration of organic matter in the water. Most common form of chlorine that is available in the market is bleaching powder.
- Vaccination for hepatitis A– Vaccinating all the masses for hepatitis is not required. Only the immunisation of sewage workers and workers involved in management of drinking waters is recommended. During the hepatitis outbreak after the flooding proper medical treatment by the application of anti-HAV IgM antibodies is required.
- Malaria prevention- Malaria is a major vector-borne disease that surfaces after the flooding. So prevention from this disease is highly required. The application of insecticides in the breeding zones can cause decrease in mosquito population. The disease does not immediately spread after the flood. So the application of the insecticides in this latent period is highly suggested. Early detection of the symptoms and laboratory tests can curb the disease from spreading. Free treatment and medication is offered in the government health centres. So if infected by malaria one should try to avail those resources.
- Handling of the corpses– Proper handling of the dead bodies is required to prevent the spreading of gastrointestinal and blood-borne diseases. In case of large number of deaths burial of the dead bodies is a better option than cremation. The workers who are indulged in the disposal of the bodies are always directed to use masks as well as gloves while working and the use of body bags to cover the bodies is also directed.
Human beings cannot do anything to contain the forces of nature but they can take preventive measures to reduce the destruction and death tolls. Governments must encourage public awareness programs to educate people about the preventive measures that can be taken during floods. It is hoped that the above points will be proved helpful to a person to survive through all the odds during the flooding.