Common Illnesses Spread by Floods

As much as a lot of us love the colder, rainy seasons, we can’t ignore the fact that the rain brings us a lot of issues. Flooding is a major problem all over the country, and we often hear of tragic disasters like landslides that come with the flooding.

The “ber” months is also the season of health concerns. Coughs, colds, and the flu are very common during this time of the year, and many of us end up missing a few days of school or work because we feel under the weather.

But the common cold is not the only health problem that comes around during the rainy season. The floods from the rain can potentially increase the transmission of more life-threatening illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), floods can possibly spread water-borne and vector-borne (infections transmitted by the bite of infected) diseases.

Below are the most common illnesses that floods can potentially bring, as well as some tips to avoid them.

Water-borne Illnesses

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is an acute illness associated with fever caused by the Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi bacteria. It can also be caused by Salmonella paratyphi, a related bacterium that usually causes a less severe illness. The bacteria are deposited in water or food by a human carrier and are then spread to other people in the area.

Cause:  Salmonella Typhi Bacteria

Mode of Transmission

  • Ingestion of food and water contaminated with human waste
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Sustained high fever
  • Headache
  • Malaise (weakness)
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)
  • Diarrhea or constipation and abdominal discomfort

Prevention and Control

  • Boil water for drinking. (Upon reaching boiling point, extend boiling for two or more minutes) or
  • Do water chlorination
  • Cook food well and always use food cover to prevent flies and other insects from contaminating them.
  • Wash thoroughly all vegetables and fruits especially those that are eaten raw.
  • Avoid eating street vended foods.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Keep surrounding clean to prevent breeding of flies.


Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.

Cause: Vibrio cholerae bacteria

Mode of Transmission

  • Eating of food or drinking of water contaminated with human waste
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Sudden onset of frequent painless watery stools
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid dehydration (e.g. sunken eyeballs, wrinkled and dry skin)

Immediate Treatment

Replace lost body fluid by giving Oral Rehydration Solution (ORESOL) or a homemade solution composed of 1 teaspoon of salt, 4 teaspoons of sugar mix to 1liter of water. If diarrhea persists, consult your health workers or bring the patient to the nearest hospital.

Prevention and Control

  • Drink only safe and clean water. If unsure, boil drinking water (Upon reaching boiling point, extend boiling for two or more minutes), or
  • Do water chlorination.
  • Keep food away from insects and rats by covering it.
  • Wash and cook food properly.
  • Sanitary disposal of human waste.
  • Use toilet properly and clean toilet everyday.
  • Wash hands with soap after using toilet and before eating.
  • Keep surroundings clean to prevent flies and other insects and rodents from breeding.


Leptospirosis is a rare bacterial infection we get from animals. It’s spread through their urine, especially from dogs, rodents, and farm animals. They may not have any symptoms, but they can be carriers.

Cause:  Leptospira bacteria

Incubation Period:  7-10 days

Mode of Transmission:

Entry of the leptospira bacteria through wounds when in contact with flood waters, vegetation, and moist soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals, especially rats.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Non-specific symptoms of muscle pain, headache
  • Calf-muscle pain and reddish eyes for some cases
  • Severe cases result tot liver involvement, kidney failure or brain involvement. Thus some cases may have yellowish body discoloration, dark-colored urine and light stools, low urine output, severe headache.


Antibiotics duly prescribed by a physician.

Early recognition and treatment within two days of illness to prevent complications of leptospirosis, so early consultation is advised.

Prevention and Control

  • Avoid swimming or wading in potentially contaminated water or flood water.
  • Use of proper protection like boots and gloves when work requires exposure to contaminated water.
  • Drain potentially contaminated water when possible.
  • Control rats in the household by using rat traps or rat poison, maintaining cleanliness in the house.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness.  Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. However, a very small proportion of people infected with hepatitis A could die from fulminant hepatitis.

Cause: Hepatitis A virus (HAV).

Mode of Transmission

Ingestion of food contaminated with human waste and urine of persons who are sick of Hepatitis A

Signs and Symptoms

  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms: weakness, muscle and joint aches, loss of appetite, dizziness with or without vomiting
  • abdominal discomfort
  • after few days, jaundice may follow

Immediate Treatment

  • No specific medicine to cure the patient or shorten the course of illness.
  • Sick persons should be isolated, advised to rest, take plenty of fluids and avoid fatty foods.
  • Patient who fail to take fluids or are too weak to eat are sometimes brought for intravenous administration of fluids and vitamins.

Prevention and Control

  • Wash hands after using the toilet, before preparing food and before eating
  • Dispose human waste properly.
  • When eating shellfish, thoroughly cook it for 4 minutes or steam them for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Eating raw shellfish, especially oysters, may put you at risk for hepatitis A.
  • Practice safe handling and storage of food and water.

Vector-borne Illnesses

 Mosquitos are the cause of the two most common vector-borne illnesses in the country, Malaria and Dengue fever.


Malaria is a life-threatening disease. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite is released into your bloodstream.

Cause: Plasmodium parasite

Mode of Transmission

Typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Congenital malaria occurs when a mother with malaria passes on the disease to her baby at birth.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Shaking chills that can range from moderate to severe
  • High fever
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Muscle pain
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Bloody stools


Treatment for the disease is typically provided in a hospital. Your doctor will prescribe medications based on the type of parasite that you have. In some instances, the medication prescribed may not clear the infection because of parasite resistance to drugs. If this occurs, your doctor may need to use more than one medication or change medications altogether to treat your condition.

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses.


Aedesaegypti, the transmitter of the disease, is a day-biting mosquito which lays eggs in clear and stagnant water found in flower vases, cans, rain barrels, old rubber tires, etc. The adult mosquitoes rest in dark places of the house.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Sudden onset of high fever which may last 2 to 7 days.
  • Joint & muscle pain and pain behind the eyes.
  • Weakness
  • Skin rashes – maculopapular rash or red tiny spots on the skin called petechiae
  • Nose bleeding when fever starts to subside
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting of coffee-colored matter
  • Dark-colored stools

Prevention and Control for Malaria and Dengue fever.

  • For malaria, there are anti-malarial medicines available (check your barangay health centre)
  • Cover water drums and water pails at all times to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • Replace water in flower vases once a week.
  • Clean all water containers once a week. Scrub the sides well to remove eggs of mosquitoes sticking to the sides.
  • Clean gutters of leaves and debris so that rain water will not collect as breeding places of mosquitoes.
  • Old tires used as roof support should be punctured or cut to avoid accumulation of water.
  • Collect and dispose all unusable tin cans, jars, bottles and other items that can collect and hold water.

Also, it’s best to keep yourself warm and dry. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and drink lots of water. And if you’re ever feeling under the weather, a nice hot bowl of batches will surely cheer you up.

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