Awareness must be raised on Doxycycline as the drug of choice to prevent diseases in flood-affected areas
Recent statistics indicate that amid heavy rainfallthe cases of water-borne diseasessuch as Leptospirosis, Gastroenteritis,Hepatitis and Typhoid, amongst others, have gone up. About 600 people were admitted with different water-borne diseases in the first two weeks of July alone. A deadly Leptospirosis has also contributed to the number of hospitalizations. There is a need to raise awareness about the fact that apart from having clean premises, providing preventive doses of Doxycycline can help bring down the number of Leptospirosis cases in areas affected by floods.
Leptospirosis can be treated with specific antibiotics as prescribed by the physician. However, there is no human vaccine widely available for the condition. Prevention is the best solution whichincludes avoiding potential sources of infection, and administration of Doxycycline prophylaxis for individuals at high risk of exposure like Sewage Workers, Garbage Cleaners, people living in poor sanitary conditions etc.
Speaking about this, Dr Mangesh Tiwaskar, General Secretary – Association of Physicians of India (API), Mumbai, said, “Floods facilitate the spread of Leptospirosis due to an increase in the contamination of flood water with rodent excreta. They shed large amounts of Leptospira in their urine and faeces, whichcontaminate the water.Leptospira are corkscrew like bugs, which can enter the human body even through intact skin.People in flood-affected areas can contract this disease if their skin or mucous membranes, such as eyes and nose, come in contact with flood water or damp soil that is contaminated with rodent urine. It is important to understand that Doxycycline is the drug of choice for taking preventive action against this disease in areas affected by heavy rains and floods.”
Drinking contaminated water is also a potential source of infection. Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to Kidney damage, Meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), Liver failure, Respiratory distress, and sometimes even death.
Taking the following precautions during the floods and periods of heavy rainfall can prevent the spread of water-borne as well as vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue:
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