By Dr Abhay Kumar
As we celebrate the (delayed) arrival of the Monsoon, as our lakes fill up, farmers find a reason to cheer and temperatures fall, it is important to realise that with this blessing comes the curse of diseases – air- and water-borne. The water you drink could carry potentially fatal illnesses such as typhoid, jaundice and hepatitis. It is important to know the health risks and precautions needed to avoid these diseases.
Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
While it is important to stay hydrated, more thought needs to be given to the quality of water we consume. Ensure that it is purified with the latest technologies such as reverse osmosis (RO), ultra-filtration (UF), ultraviolet rays (UV) or multi-stage purification. While they all work differently, all of them are designed to achieve the same outcome – to give you germ-free, clean drinking water whilst retaining its beneficial minerals. Therefore, make sure to install one of these purifying systems in your home.
This monsoon, ditch steel and switch to copper vessels for storing drinking water. Filter the water and boil it up to 20 minutes. Cool the water and store it in a copper vessel. Such water is a cheap, effective barrier against water-borne diseases. This is because, unlike steel, copper can prevent the contamination of disease-causing bacteria – especially E-coli, which is responsible for causing diarrhoea and pneumonia. Since it is often difficult to find out how pure the water you drink really is, this method is a reliable guarantee for a disease-free monsoon.
Don’t let your home flood
Check for and address leaks in the home. The moisture often leads to mould, which typically grows in dark areas like bathrooms and behind walls and sinks. This can lead rise to tightness in the chest, wheezing and more serious problems such as asthma when exposed to it for prolonged periods. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a very high proportion of the world’s 300 million cases of childhood asthma are due to overexposure to mould.
Avoid stagnant water
Nothing can beat the fun of jumping puddles and getting wet in the rain. Yet, this childhood-favourite activity could turn you and your home into breeding grounds for mosquitoes that transmit deadly diseases such as dengue and malaria. Stagnant water is contaminated with animal and even human faeces, which in turn attracts disease-causing organisms like Leptospira (leptospirosis fever). Thus, be sure to immediately bathe and change out of your wet clothes after exposure to rainfall or puddles.
Restrict raw food
People are investing in a healthy, clean diet, which usually translates into a heavy dependence on salads, fruit and other raw food such as fish. Although their health benefits don’t change with the weather, eating raw food in the monsoon, if not washed well, can cause food poisoning, diarrhoea and typhoid.
Religiously practising these measures will help shield you and your family from illnesses. This monsoon, stay happy and stay healthy.
(The author is Associate Vice-President and Chief Scientific Officer, Eureka Forbes Limited. Views expressed are personal.)