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Public warned against water-borne diseases

As flooding caused by heavy rains hit many parts of the country including Metro Manila the past few days, the Department of Health (DoH) has called on the public to strictly observe safety and health tips to avoid contracting water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis A.

The DoH said flooding can speed up the spread of diseases transmitted through water contaminated with human or animal waste.

In view of this, the DoH issued on Saturday a health advisory urging the people to observe the following practices to protect themselves from diseases that usually appear during the rainy season:

  • Make sure drinking water is from a safe and reliable source. When in doubt, it is a must to wait for 2 minutes or longer when the water reaches a rolling boil, or chlorinate drinking water to make it safe.
  • Food should be well-cooked, leftovers should be covered and kept away from household pests, and food waste should be disposed properly.
  • Keep self dry and warm, especially during the cold weather.
  • Always wash your hands before and after eating, and using the toilet; when sick, consult a doctor or go to the nearest health facility at once if you, or any household member, have any sign or symptom of infection.
  • In times of typhoons, do not wade or swim in floodwaters to avoid diseases, such as leptospirosis; dispose all waste properly; maintain good personal hygiene; and, put safety first. Stay away from hanging wires and unstable structures.

Typhoid fever, an infectious disease also known as enteric fever, is caused by bacteria known as Salmonella typhi. It spreads through contaminated food and water or through close contact with someone who is infected. Signs and symptoms include high- and low-grade fever for several days, headache, weakness, loss of appetite, either diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal discomfort.

Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The infection causes a profuse, painless, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by rats through urine and feces. It can contaminate the soil, water, and vegetation. Its mode of transmission includes ingesting contaminated food or water, or when broken skin or open wounds are exposed to floodwaters.

Hepatitis A, one of the oldest diseases known to humankind, is an infectious disease transmitted through ingestion of food contaminated with human waste and urine of persons who have Hepatitis A. Symptoms usually include fever, flu-like symptoms such as weakness, muscle and joint aches, loss of appetite and dizziness.