Health Ministry: Beware flood-related diseases

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

DANGER WATER: The Health Ministry is reminding that floodwaters may be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. – File Photo

THE Ministry of Health is reminding the public of health risks associated with flooding and flood-related diseases as the country continues to experience adverse weather.

Flood waters, the ministry said in a press release on Thursday, may carry silt, raw sewage and bacteria, which in turn can contaminate food and water.

The ministry is advising of certain precautions to take to avoid post-flood diseases:

* Only drink water that is confirmed to be safe. If bottled water is unavailable, bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute and allow it to cool in a clean container before use.

You can also add 1/8 teaspoon (or eight medicine drops) of unscented household liquid bleach for each gallon of water, stir well and allow to stand for 30 minutes before consuming. Store water in clean, covered containers.

* Inspect food carefully to determine if it may have come into contact with floodwaters. Dispose of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat that may have come into contact with flood waters.

* Discard food in open containers and packages and consumable goods in bags, paper, cloth, fibre or cardboard boxes, such as flour, cereal and rice (even if the packages were sealed).

Canned food items may be safe for consumption, but remove labels and disinfect cans thoroughly with a bleach solution before opening. But if you have any doubts, please throw them out.

* Avoid contact with potentially contaminated water (streams, rivers and ponds) and other flooded areas, especially if you have cuts or abrasions of the skin.

* If working in areas that may be prone to flooding, wear protective clothing such as gloves, boots, aprons, and eye protection to avoid contamination.

* If you have come into contact with floodwaters or flood-contaminated items, ensure you properly wash and sanitise yourself and all clothing and equipment used.

The ministry said some common diseases associated with the rainy season and post-flooding events are dengue, leptospirosis and gastroenteritis.

Anyone infected with these viral diseases may experience one or more of these symptoms: high fever, vomiting, headaches, diarrhoea, chills and muscle aches.

More information on proper hand-washing techniques, water safety and using bleach for cleaning and sanitising after a flood can be found on the ministry’s website: www.health.gov.tt