Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan has advised residents of areas affected by this month’s floods to be on the lookout for salmonella. He said people with diarrhoea, vomiting, high fevers and abdominal pains should visit their nearest health facility immediately. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Khan said the ministry was on the lookout for salmonella and other food-borne and water-borne diseases in the aftermath of the floods. The Ministry of Health’s Insect Vector Control Division has been disinfecting the areas to avoid the outbreak of diseases. Khan said public health inspectors had also been deployed to the affected areas.
Although there have been reports in other daily newspapers of residents falling ill as a result of dust, Khan said: “There is no big set of dust. Nothing is that bad.” Because the country is currently in its rainy season, the areas, he said, have not been as dry and rain is constantly washing and keeping the dust down. The main conditions, Khan said, that have presented themselves were “human conditions.” Khan said stress-related illness, such as hypertension, have been common but there are programmes available at health facilities in Diego Martin, Petit Valley and in the various shelters to assist residents with those illinesses. Khan said the ministry would not be going on a renewed inoculation programme in the affected areas as there was an ongoing immunisation programme already in place.
Health issues after flood
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) website defines salmonella as:
“...a genus of bacteria that are a major cause of food-borne illness throughout the world. It is generally transmitted to humans through consumption of contaminated food of animal origin, mainly meat, poultry, eggs, milk.
The symptoms of salmonella infection usually appear 12–72 hours after infection, and include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and sometimes vomiting.
The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment. However, in the very young and the elderly, and in cases when the bacteria enter the bloodstream, anti-biotherapy may be needed.”
Others illnesses common after a flood are:
• Water-borne diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis and Hepatitis A; and
• vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue and dengue haemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and West Nile Fever.