Public advised to safeguard against water-borne illnesses
Another springtide is expected on October 26 and is likely to affect some coastal and low-lying communities. This can pose a risk of water-borne diseases to persons who may come into contact with the water. Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Shamdeo Persaud, in an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), has advised what measure residents, in these areas, can implement to avoid contracting water-borne diseases.
“One of the greatest risks with intermittent flooding like this is usually it pushes all those pests like rats, snakes and those sorts of creatures to higher ground and some of them invade homes… the issue of leptospirosis is still one that is of concern to public health so ensuring that you protect all water sources, all your drinking water supplies, food supplies are very critical,” he is quoted as saying by DPI.
Dr Persaud also emphasised that persons must avoid coming into contact with floodwaters; however, if there is need to be in the water, persons must protect themselves at all times. “We usually advise that you wear long boots wherever possible… you wash correctly, and there are some small measures like applying Vaseline to the legs which help to reduce the penetration, if you have any wounds, treat and clean them and keep them covered”.
Further, persons are being advised to adopt safety measures which will guarantee they have clean water for household purposes. Water treatment such as boiling and adding bleach are reliable measures recommended the Health Ministry. Also, water containers must be covered at all times.
The CMO noted that Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has been doing their part to ensure that their supply of water to residents is not compromised.
There are other ways to prevent water contamination. One such method is through proper waste and garbage disposal, especially during this expected springtide period. Persons can ensure that garbage is secured in plastic bags and waterproof receptacles, like drums/barrels, with a thick covering until it can be disposed of later.
Dr Persaud also advised that the most effective way to ensure that you are protected from water-borne diseases is by ensuring everyone in your household is vaccinated. “For adults, we strongly recommend that they get a Hepatitis B vaccine along with MMR [Measles Mumps Rubella], a Yellow Fever and the Diphtheria Tetanus. These are the four adults must ensure they are covered with to be protected”.
In areas prone to be affected by projected springtides, the health centres are equipped with the necessary medicine and emergency supplies. Also, these health facilities may serve as relief facilities if there is a need.