Unprecedented rains in Tamil Nadu have killed 269, and now public health agencies are gearing up for health problems associated with contaminated food and water, disrupted sewer supply and mosquito-borne infections.
Union health minister J P Nadda spoke to Tamil Nadu health minister Dr C Vijaya Baskar on Wednesday offering support. “The Union ministry is in touch with the health department and will provide all possible need-based assistance, including setting up water filtration camps and sensing tents, medicines, disinfectants such as chlorine, phenyl and DDT,” said a Union health ministry official who did not want to be named.
“Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, acute diarrhoea, severe skin allergies, infected cuts and wounds inevitably follow flooding,” said Dr Anil Arora, chairman, department of gastroenterology, Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.
“Most infections are bacterial, viral or fungal. Flooding is the biggest cause of hepatitis E epidemics across the world, which causes jaundice and high fever,” he said.
The other outbreaks to watch out for are hepatitis A, which again causes symptoms of fever and jaundice, cholera, enteric fevers such as typhoid, and mosquito-borne fevers such as malaria and chikungunya.
“The UN agencies have offered to support coordination, assessment and planning efforts of the state government,” said Job Zachariah, chief, UNICEF Tamil Nadu and Kerala.