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WATER-BORNE DISEASES ADVISORY 29 JULY 2017

Typhoons and heavy rains may cause flooding which, in turn, can potentially increase the transmission of water-borne diseases, or diseases transmitted through water contaminated with human or animal waste. These include typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, and hepatitis A.

Typhoid fever is an infectious disease which is also known as enteric fever or just typhoid. It 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. Its incubation period ranges from less than 1 day to 5 days. The infection causes a profuse, painless, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. In extreme cases, cholera is a rapidly deadly disease. A healthy individual may die within 2-3 hours if no treatment is provided.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by rats through urine and feces. It can contaminate the soil, water, and vegetation. It is caused by Leptospira spirochetes bacteria. Its mode of transmission includes ingesting contaminated food or water, or when broken skin or open wounds are exposed to floodwaters. Its incubation period is 7-10 days.

Hepatitis A, one of the oldest diseases known to humankind, is an infectious disease and caused by Hepatitis A virus (HAV). The most common mode of transmission is ingestion of food contaminated with human waste and urine of persons who have Hepatitis A. Its symptoms usually include fever, flu-like symptoms such as weakness, muscle and joint aches, loss of appetite and dizziness. Other symptoms may be so mild that they go unnoticed.

Climate change affects the increase in the intensity of typhoons. Thus, the Department of Health is issuing this health advisory, especially during these kind of weather events:

Water is a necessity in our daily existence. 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, same as water, is equally important to sustain us healthy and active. Remember that food should be well-cooked, leftovers should be covered and kept away from household pests, and food waste should be disposed properly.

Keep yourself 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.

Other safety reminders in times of typhoons include: 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.
 

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