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7 Ways to Prevent Viral Infections This Monsoon

Preparation, vaccines and vigilance are your best shield against monsoon-related illnesses.

Updated:July 9, 2019, 3:55 PM IST
7 Ways to Prevent Viral Infections This Monsoon
Preparation, vaccines and vigilance are your best shield against monsoon-related illnesses.

It's that time of the year again. The heavens open up, it pours and pours, and the weather changes dramatically. What's even more common though is how everyone's health from the classroom to boardroom suddenly takes a hit. "It's the change of weather," they'll usually say. But no matter how many times people tell you it's the monsoon that's causing the sneezing, stuffy noses, coughs and fevers, it just doesn't work like that.

Why do we get sick?

Most common - the flu and the common cold are everywhere but are completely different viruses. And while there are hundreds of others - rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, coronaviruses - that have symptoms we term common cold, the influenza virus causes the flu. But those are not the only infectious diseases we see. Water-borne ((typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis A) and vector-borne infections (malaria, dengue and dengue haemorrhagic fever, yellow fever) are also common around this time of the year.

Once you catch the infection, it is particularly challenging to get rid of and all too easy to infect others who come in contact. Why? Because the rainy season is when we all stay indoors more often and come into closer contact with each other. Plus, dry air-conditioning controlled offices and spaces are more conducive to the spread of germs. One uncovered cough or sneeze on cramped public transport is enough to infect a whole bunch of people and let's not get started on handrails, flooded areas, mosquitoes and elevators.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How can we protect ourselves?

While we can't confine ourselves to a room for the rest of the rainy season, we can do a few simple things to protect ourselves and our loved ones from getting sick.

1. Avoid wading through stagnant water or flooded areas at all costs.

2. Remember to wash your hands often and thoroughly. This is true especially around children and those with compromised immune systems, i.e. people dealing with chemotherapy, transplant patients, those with HIV etc.

3. Clean and seal all cuts and open wounds. This might be the time when zits and blemishes occur more frequently but resist the urge to pull off scabs and pick at them. Unbroken skin is a better safeguard against germs.

4. Watch out for contaminated water sources. Stay hydrated but make sure you figure out if your water is safe before taking a sip. Besides boiling and purifying - remember that purifier water from units that are not regularly serviced is also unsafe.

5. Avoid eating unwashed fruits and veggies and street food. They often lie open and exposed to the elements and are handled by several people before they reach you.

6. Never share dishes, glasses and cutlery, especially if sick. It only takes a few stubborn germs to make the jump from the infected to a healthy person.

7. Protection is vital - both for yourself and for others. Get your yearly flu vaccine and encourage others to do the same. Check with your doctor about what other kinds of vaccinations are also recommended for you and get those too. The more people that are vaccine-protected, the better our chances of stopping the spread of germs and avoiding unnecessary illness and fatalities.

While most of these are preventative measures, learning about the infectious diseases in your area and being vigilant for warning signs is equally important. Keeping contact numbers of doctors and emergency services handy and staying tuned to health-warnings from credible sources are all part of staying healthy and infection-free all through.

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