When the skies let loose after such a long spell of dry season such as the country has been experiencing, we are exhilarated. Indeed, rain is good. But like our ancestors were wont to do, we have to prepare for the rains in every manner possible and not leave any loopholes that the weather can exploit to turn the joy into misery. Centuries ago, people would thatch their roofs, prepare the garn and clear the compound.
A lot has changed today, but the preparation cannot be ruled out altogether. There remain many things to tidy up here and there in anticipation of the rains, because with the pita-pata of the downpour comes bacteria and a host of germ-causing vectors.
This explains why it is during onset of rainy seasons that cases of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery, among others.
Cases of malaria also surge around this time, meaning mosquitoes are more vicious at the onset of rain as they get ample breeding grounds near homesteads.
According to Dr Jose Nyamusore, the director of food and waterborne diseases unit in Rwanda Biomedical Centre, there are many dangerous diseases that come with the heavy rains and most of them are hygiene-related.
“The common illnesses that come with the rainy season are probably caused by poor hygiene. These diseases include cholera, typhoid fever, diarrhoea, colds (flu and cough),” Dr Nyamusore said.
Such scenarios appear worse at the countryside where pit-latrines are often a luxury for some. This means sharing while others, partly because of their own mentality, choose to either use bushes or to dump faecal matters to the bushes. This means that with the heavy rains, the faeces, flow into water sources for domestic use, Dr Nyamusore said.
Community health experts urge that positive attitude is necessary to boost hygiene. A positive mindset would see community members dispose of waste of any form in designated dumping places.
Similarly, dust in the atmosphere is washed down by the first falling rain, choking oxygen in the process. When inhaled the dust in the oxygen affects the lungs, causing cough and flu as well as other common colds.
For malaria, rains often find homesteads with bushes and many containers abandoned in the vicinity. Drainage systems could also be littered, all which lead to stagnation of rain water. This stagnate water becomes the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, and according to Dr Joseph Kamugisha, a resident oncologist in Jerusalem, Israel, this explains why mosquitoes are most vicious during the onset of rains than deep into the rainy season when most of the breeding ones have been washed away by running water.
Other incidences such of typhoid, diarrhoea, among others, are largely results of hygiene in the homesteads. With the wet season means more attention to hygiene as too many waste matters are washed into compounds, while flies to make a hive of anything unhygienic in the compound.
Food poisoning is also common as bacteria proliferate in the hot and humid atmosphere. Symptoms include stomachaches and diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting and fever. Health experts urge that food should be stored in a clean environment such as refrigerators.
If food has gone bad with toxins produced by bacteria, the toxins won’t be destroyed even if you boil the food. When the food seems to have gone stale, throw it away without hesitation, according to the Korean Times.
Foods should be heated sufficiently before eating, and cooked food shouldn’t be stored too long before consumption. Those who have diarrhea or have cuts on their hands should refrain from cooking.
Also, fungus can live anywhere when humidity, temperature, and nutritional conditions are met. The wet season is their heyday. People may get athlete’s foot as many perspire a lot from their feet while the ventilation is poor. Doctors say people should wash their feet and dry them completely when they come home.
Precautions and recourse
Dr Nyamusore advises that people should be conscious of what they eat and drink, they should separate raw food and well-cooked food and boil or disinfect water before drinking.
Minor things such as brushing teeth of rinsing the mouth can actually prove to be serious hygiene concerns if one used contaminated water. Health experts advise that even for brushing teeth, one has to use clean and treated water.
For community leaders, this is the time to be more active with awareness campaign. The City of Kigali public hygiene campaigns usually coincide with such seasons. Currently, Kicukiro District is running a health campaign that will see sectors rewarded for being the cleanest.
“If you catch common colds then the best homemade remedy is a glass of hot milk or water. Rinsing your mouth with warm water gives relief to your sore throat. If things don’t improve then it is always better to see a doctor,” Dr Nyamusore said.
For metabolic diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera, oral rehydration should be given immediately as laboratory tests are being run to confirm the exact type. Also, although cholera can be treated easily, it could prove dangerous if the treatment is not given on time.
According to Dr Corine Karem, the director of the National Malaria Control Programme, in order to keep yourself safe, one needs to know that the most common disease during the rainy season is malaria. Malaria is transmitted through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes.
“Since there is a problem of water logging during the rainy season, mosquitoes get conducive conditions to breed and multiply. Fever at unvarying intervals, muscle pain and weakness are the symptoms that a patient shows while suffering from Malaria,” Dr Karema said.
“Ensure that all stagnnt water surrounding homesteads is drained. Bushes should also be cleared and things like flower vases can be sprayed.”
In order to keep yourself safe, you need to know the most common diseases that you need to stay away from and their remedies.
This is the most common disease during the rainy season. Malaria is spread by Female Anopheles mosquito. Since there is a problem of water logging during the rainy season, mosquitoes get conducive environment to breed.
Since malaria is spread by mosquitoes, so mosquito repellents and nets should be used to prevent it. Also, ensure that water does not stagnate in your area as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
Cholera is another deadly disease that spreads during the rainy season. This disease is caused by contaminated food and water. Also poor hygienic conditions help cholera to spread. Severe diarrhoea with watery stools is the most common symptom of cholera. There could also be vomiting with immediate water loss and muscle cramps.
It is always wise to get vaccinated as it lasts secures you for almost six months. Keep the drinking water clean and boil it before using, if possible. Also maintain personal hygiene and good sanitation.
If infected, oral rehydration should be given immediately. Also, although cholera can be treated easily, it could prove dangerous if the treatment is not given on time.
This is another highly infectious disease that spreads during the monsoon season. This disease is caused by contaminated food and water. The worst part is that the infection can remain in the gall bladder of the patient even after he is cured. This could prove fatal. The most common symptom of typhoid is prolonged fever. Severe pain in abdomen and headache also indicate the disease.
This is a highly communicable disease so the patient should be isolated from the rest of the family. Getting a vaccination in advance also helps. The patients should get high intake of fluid to prevent dehydration. Since typhoid has a tendency of relapsing in two weeks, the patient should take utmost care. Precautions should continue even after recovery.
This epidemic is generally caused by flies. It can also spread by coming in direct contact of the patient. The symptoms of the disease are similar to flu; high fever, headache, pain in joints and vomiting.
The most important prevention of is vaccination. This vaccine is available at government hospitals. The patient should be kept on complete bed rest and should be given a high calories diet, not fat and oily foods.
This is the most common disease that catches people cutting across age lines. You get wet and you have got it. Although it is hard to beat the temptation of dancing in the rain, this joy is likely to get you common cold.
Constant sneezing, sore throat and fever are the common symptoms.
The easiest way is to avoid getting yourself drenched in rain. If you catch common cold then the best homemade remedy is a glass of hot turmeric milk. Gargles with warm water give relief to your sore throat. If things don’t improve then it is always better to see a doctor.
Seven ways to stay healthy this rainy season
The rainy season may have its charms: the cool weather, the reason to wear jackets and the magnified pleasure of a cup of hot coffee or a bowl of hot soup. But it has dangers as well, primarily in the form of diseases like dengue and in infectious bacteria and viruses that become active due to the high humidity caused by repeated spells of rain.
Luckily, there are simple precautions we can take to stay in peak health condition during this tricky season. Here are some tips gleaned from IndiaParenting.com:
Wash hands. Bacteria and viruses come alive during the monsoon and you can come into contact with them just by crossing the road or holding on to an infected railing or bench. Wash your hands as frequently as you can with soap and warm water.
Don't touch your face. The flu virus commonly enters our body through the eyes, nose and mouth.
Resist the urge to scratch your eye or wipe your sweaty forehead. Use a clean handkerchief instead.
No dirty water. Clogged gutters and dirty puddles are a common sight during rainy season. They are sources of waterborne diseases. Covering up is the best way to protect yourself from these diseases and still maintain your active life.
Avoid eating street food. Chapatti might be a good idea any time of the year, not the rainy season. Food cooked and sold in the open air are likely to come in contact with airborne and waterborne diseases and bacteria.
Keep mosquitoes out. The mosquito population grows during monsoon because stagnant water becomes more common. To keep mosquitoes out of your life, do some housecleaning. Look through flower pots, ditches... that may be holding stagnant water. Clean them out and cover them.
Drink herbal tea. Herbal tea has curative properties for coughs, colds and sore throat — common ailments during the rainy season.
Eucalyptus oil and honey. The aroma of eucalyptus oil helps us breathe easily; this, in turn, relaxes the entire body. Honey is much more abundant. This sweet product has curative effects for many kinds of diseases, from common colds down to bacterial infection. The time to stock is now.