Health tips during floods
Viral hepatitis is a common endemic water and food borne disease in
Sri Lanka following monsoon rains such as we are experiencing at
present. Among the different types of hepatitis in Sri Lanka, Hepatitis
A is the commonest as it is spread by drinking contaminated water and
eating unhygienically prepared or exposed food, such as sold on the
streets or small side cafés and restaurants. Although this form of the
disease is mild, an average of 1,500-2,000 cases of viral hepatitis are
notified to the epidemiology unit yearly.
However, during epidemics (outbreaks) higher numbers (around 6,000
cases) are notified from all 26 districts...
There are several types of viral hepatitis viz A B C D and E. From
these, Hepatitis A is the commonest type found in Sri Lanka. The most
common causes of infective hepatitis are viruses. Hepatitis A and E are
spread via faeco-oral route i.e by ingestion of contaminated food or
water. This is usually a mild disease which has no chronic stage.
Hepatitis A most often causes a sub-clinical or self limiting
illness. Commonly reported initial symptoms include general ill health,
loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever. Later patients
produce dark urine, pale stools and on examination the clinician finds
yellow discolouration of skin and sclera, enlarged liver and or spleen.
Recovery usually occurs in 3-6 weeks.
No treatment that can cure the disease 100 percent is available. For
mild illness no treatment is necessary. During Hepatitis A illness the
patient may be advised to rest and to follow a fat free diet and to
avoid alcohol. Strict personal hygiene and the avoidance of raw and
unpeeled foods can help prevent an infection.
Foods to avoid and how to cook them
Washing in salt/turmeric water doesn't kill all disease causing
organisms. In fact it may aggravate the problem if the water used is not
clean. The important thing is to wash vegetables or fruit which are
eaten raw with clean water and rinse well before consumption.
When cooking, cook well to make sure the germs are killed. Avoid food
that is eaten raw which could be contaminated with faecal matter and
consume well cooked food during flood situations. Cover prepared/cooked
food until consumption (to avoid flies/insects contaminating food).
Conjunctivitis may also be caused by such environmental hazards as
wind, smoke, dust, and allergic reactions caused by pollen, dust, or
Symptoms range from itching and redness to a mucous discharge.
Persons who wear contact lenses may develop allergic conjunctivitis
caused by the various eye solutions and foreign proteins contained in
Accurate diagnosis of conjunctivitis centres on taking the patient's
history to learn when symptoms began, how long the condition has been
going on, the symptoms experienced, and other predisposing factors.
Diagnostic tests may include an eye examination, culture, or laboratory
Viral conjunctivitis may cause blindness and should be referred to an
ophthalmologist. Topical steroids are commonly prescribed in combination
with antiviral therapy.
In cases of Bacterial Conjunctivitis, a physician may prescribe an
antibiotic eye ointment or eye drops. Patients should contact their
doctors if the eyes fail to improve after 72 hours.
Conjunctivitis can be prevented in many cases; in others, the course
of the disease can be shortened by these simple practices:
•Washing hands frequently using antiseptic soap; using single-use
towels during the disease to prevent spreading the infection.
•Using a clean tissue to remove discharge from eyes.
•If medication is prescribed, finishing the course of antibiotics as
directed to make sure that the infection is cleared up and does not
•Avoiding wearing eye makeup or contact lenses during the infection.
Never share eye makeup with others especially if you have an eye
Leptospirosis (Rat Fever)
Leptospirosis or Rat Fever is a potentially serious but treatable
disease. In Sri Lanka more cases are reported after heavy rainfalls and
Treatment is effective with antibiotics as soon as the disease is
suspected.If involved in occupations like farming, mining, cleaning
drains and canals , inform the MOH or PHI in the area for advice.
Doxycycline tablets are available for those engaged in cleaning canals,
farming and working in gem pits , as a protection and prevention of the
Remove rubbish and keep human habitat clean to control rodents .
Keep animals away from play areas for children.
Wear protective clothes and cover wounds on feet and hands with high
boots and gloves.
Drink only boiled cooled water.
Avoid walking in flood water.