Malaria, diarrhea, sun stroke on rise

HYDERABAD: Incidences of malaria, diarrhea, sun stroke and others diseases were on the rise with the current hot summer season in Pakistan. Poor drinking water quality, sanitation and hygienic conditions cause illnesses of the adults and children.

Child specialist and pediatrician of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Jamshoro Dr. Salma Shaikh expressed these views while talking to APP here on other day.

She said that the number of patients, suffering from viral and bacterial diseases, like diarrhea, scabies, bronchitis, asthma, malaria, typhoid, dengue fever has been on the rise due to the hot summer season.

Dr. Salma Shaikh said that the contaminated water and unhygienic food was also causing typhoid, adding that the typhoid virus could live in ice-cream. Besides, an eye-ailment, called conjunctivitis, is also increasing among people, she added.

She informed that cholera is one of the extremely virulent infections and it is caused by a bacterium known as Vibrio Cholera, which thrives in areas where proper environmental management is scarce. She said that the untreated sewage, contaminated water and insufficient sanitation do not discourage the rapid growth of this pathogen, added.

Dr. Salma Shaikh said that typical at-risk countries are those where basic infrastructure is not available and essential requirements for clean water and appropriate hygiene are not met.

Person to person transmission is rare and the frequent cause for invasion of the pathogen is coming in direct contact with it, that is, bathing in, drinking, cooking in or handling water saturated with impurities and contamination. Eating raw or under cooked seafood such as shellfish is also a known source of cholera, she said.

She said that symptoms encountered, however, include an abnormal production of watery diarrhea and vomiting which instantly dehydrates the body and deprives it of vital fluids, which if not replaced almost immediately, can result in death. She suggested that patients must undergo either intravenous fluid replacement or oral re-hydration, which is supplying pre-packaged solutions of dissolved salts and minerals to be injected or otherwise drunk in large amounts, pediatrician said.

She said that with the proper treatment, the fatality rate should stay below 1 percent and two vaccines are available against cholera but considering the brief and incomplete immunity they provide, the vaccines are not licensed in most countries.

Dr. Salma said that Pakistan has not eluded brutal outbreaks of cholera and the months May to July are peppered with frequent cases of the disease and prevalent cholera occurs in annual epidemic waves during the dry season, especially in the rural areas of Pakistan, she added.

She said that in summer season the risk of a heat stroke, cramps and exhaustion is high if physical activities are pursued or exposure to the elements is prolonged and heat sickness is fast acting and dangerous.

She said that in some cases, it can induce a coma and even lead to death and heat cramps are not dangerous but heat strokes can be life threatening. It is fatal 50 percent of the time and requires urgent medical care, she added.

She said that people at risk of heat-related illnesses are the elderly (65 and above) and weak with low levels of fluid in their bodies but overweight people and those with heart, kidney, lung problems or high blood pressure are also at risk, she added.

She said that urban populations are at a higher risk because concrete and asphalt retain and give off heat and the body cools itself by sweating.

Dr. Salma suggested to avoid caffeinated beverages and others street cold drinks which contain substances that will cause dehydration, avoid carbonated beverages because the carbonation may cause bloating or a feeling of fullness and prevent adequate consumption of fluids, wear light colored, absorb able, loose fitting clothes and stay in cool, shaded areas and protect your skin with sun-block whenever possible, she added. –APP