During the monsoons, a wide array of infections occur. They range from the milder forms of gastroenteritis and common cold, cough to the severe forms of dengue hemorrhagic fever, complicated malaria and leptospirosis which can be fatal, if not identified early and managed appropriately. To know more about them, we spoke to Dr Monalisa Sahu, Consultant - Infectious Diseases, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.
"The vector-borne diseases, mostly by the mosquitoes increase in huge numbers during the monsoons, as the breeding places for the mosquitoes increase due to the collection of stagnant water in several places," said Dr Sahu. She said that the mosquito-borne diseases, which can be life-threatening if not treated early, are complicated malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, and chikungunya.
According to a study published by The Journal of Climate Change and Health, malaria cases exhibit seasonal patterns, with a higher prevalence during the monsoon months. However, transmission can occur throughout the year, not limited to specific months.
Dr Sahu said, "Patients in whom malaria gets complicated show several symptoms, such as high-grade fevers, severe headaches, altered consciousness, dark-coloured urine, severe anaemia, and bleeding from various sites."
She said that malaria is curable with anti-malarial drugs, but if complications develop, especially in vulnerable groups, such as children and infants, pregnant females and elderly, and the immunocompromised population, the management becomes difficult and the outcomes may sometimes be adverse.
According to the World Health Organization's report on Asian nations, dengue cases tend to increase during the rainy season. To this, Dr Sahu added that patients with dengue can show symptoms, such as fevers, rash, myalgia, retro-orbital pain, and headache.
"A few of them progress into severe dengue, known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can present as bleeding from several sites, severe pain in the abdomen, severe headache and altered sensorium, dengue myocarditis, along with a massive decrease in the platelets," she added.
"Many a time, managing cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever is challenging, requiring intensive monitoring and critical care support, with multiple transfusions and other supportive measures," explained the doctor.
Chikungunya is another common illness prevalent during monsoon. Dr Sahu said, "Chikungunya fever, which is also transmitted by mosquitoes, causes high-grade fevers with severe joint pains and rash occasionally." She added that it can be fatal in rare cases when it involves other organ systems, such as the central nervous system and the circulatory system.
Gastrointestinal infections, such as typhoid, dysentery and cholera are other common illnesses during monsoon. According to Dr Shau, these illnesses can be caused due to consumption of contaminated food and water with causative microorganisms.
"People who suffer from these conditions present with high-grade fever, loose motions, nausea and vomiting, pain abdomen, and generalised weakness," she added. "The symptoms may become severe and even fatal in individuals at extremes of age, and pregnant females, due to excessive dehydration due to ongoing losses of fluids from the body and inadequate repletion. The enteric fever may also cause intestinal perforation, which can be fatal if not diagnosed early," she suggested.
"Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused when one wades through the muddy and contaminated rainwater, containing rat urine," said Dr Sahu. She added that this disease presents as a high-grade fever with jaundice and pain abdomen. "The infection can be rapidly fatal by the involvement of the brain, spinal cord, liver, and kidney damage, if not treated with antibiotics on time," she said.
Precautions to be Taken During the Monsoon
- Avoid collection of stagnant water in and around our houses and surroundings to avoid the breeding of mosquitoes.
- You should use full sleeves clothes, mosquito repellants, and mosquito nets to avoid mosquito bites.
- Consume clean and hygienic, covered food material and water, preferably boiled or RO water. Avoid eating from street vendors and unclean food and water.
- Stay adequately hydrated, with plenty of fluid intake, especially in cases of loose motions or gastroenteritis.
- Develop and follow hygienic habits, such as washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitiser, before meals and after using the toilet.
- Avoid contact with sick persons, as much as possible and get vaccinated with the flu shots after consulting your doctor.
- Pregnant women, young children, infants and older adults are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Therefore, they need to be more vigilant and should consult a doctor early if develop any symptoms.
[Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Consult your healthcare provider to get a thorough diagnosis and treatment as per your health needs.]
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