Health Hazards Of Floods: Emergency Medical Care, Outbreaks, Diseases, Toxins, Mental Health

Floods may expose survivors to a range of hazards, including infectious diseases, infections, toxins and even wild animal attacks.

Health Hazards Of Floods: Emergency Medical Care, Outbreaks, Diseases, Toxins, Mental Health 

The catastrophic flooding that has occurred in many states throughout Malaysia over the previous three days was caused by one-in-a-100-year heavy rainfall, a senior official from the country’s Environment and Water Ministry said Sunday (Dec 19).

The extent of Tropical Depression 29W’s (tropical cyclone) devastation is just beginning to be realised, with thousands of people still in shelters and an unknown number of homes flooded. 

However, Malaysia’s flood levels have begun to decrease gradually after the many areas were slammed by the brunt of the storm and torrential downpours.

This devastation has demonstrated that even after the storm passes, the cleaning and recovery process may be dangerous. When individuals eventually return home and begin rebuilding, they confront a variety of health hazards.

When people view images of a cyclone or a storm, they immediately think of the immediate hazards posed by the wind and water. It is critical to note that the cleaning process presents extremely serious health hazards in the long term as well.

source - sky news

Medications And Treatment Access

With a large portion of Klang Valley and neighbouring states still submerged, first responders and medical personnel have concentrated on assisting individuals in immediate distress.

However, health professionals warn that patients who suffer from chronic diseases may be running out of time, even if they are not gravely sick.

The issue is for patients with diabetes or who need dialysis and may be cut off from treatment.

You have individuals who are suffering from chronic diseases, or in certain situations, pregnancy and need rapid emergency treatment.

As people get isolated, their access to care will become more dangerous and serious. Along with impacting those in immediate need of treatment, a storm of this magnitude has the potential to disrupt people’s access to doctors.

Individuals with chronic or acute health concerns are unable to continue receiving care from their regular doctors or get access to other health services that would have been made accessible to them as storm survivors.

The growing dependence on electronic records in the future might benefit residents who relocate.

Considering the usefulness of electronic medical records, more individuals will have access to that information electronically.  It does enable individuals to get in touch.

Dangers In The Home

Health experts warn that after the storm, residents may return to their houses to discover new occupants: wild animals.

One thing that many people overlook is the fact that animals, snakes, and insects also seek refuge from the flood, and they do so in abandoned buildings. As individuals begin the cleanup process, snake and animal bites become more prevalent.

Individuals should exercise extra caution while cleaning out locations such as cupboards or closets, where they cannot see well inside, and not extend their hand in without first checking for unwelcome “visitors”.

As individuals attempt to clean up, they are prone to getting cleaning injuries. They are at an extremely high risk of contracting tetanus if they cut or injure themselves. Tetanus injections for anyone who may sustain open wounds while working in floodwaters become vital in these circumstances. 

The water itself, which is contaminated with chemicals and fuel from stranded vehicles, may be dangerous. When residents return to repair their houses, they would need to be cautious of any standing water left behind. The water itself might be dangerous due to the poisons contained in it. You want to ensure that you have enough protection.

There are also dangers of utilising generators to generate power. Carbon dioxide is produced by all generators. It is colourless and odourless, and individuals are unaware they are being exposed. Generators should be kept away from residences and should never be utilised inside. The vapours are very lethal.

source - new straits times

Disease Outbreaks 

Crowded shelters overflowing with people exposed to contaminated water during floods can create ideal conditions for major disease outbreaks.

In certain crowded settings, when individuals remain in close proximity for an extended amount of time, infectious diseases can spread easily. In this case, whilst we already battling the covid-19 pandemic, shelters become breeding grounds for viral spread. Respiratory viruses spread rapidly, and this might be the situation in which individuals would be prone to developing covid.

Along with respiratory viruses, other virusus such as the norovirus — often referred to as the stomach flu — which can swiftly spread across a community, also becomes a concern in these crowded settings.

If the storm damages water pipes, it is possible that people may be left without safe drinking water. As a consequence, the likelihood of outbreaks of waterborne diseases may arise.

Access to safe drinking water and a means of disposing of wastewater is also vital, ensuring that none of these infections spread readily. Having access to drinking water may make a significant impact.

With pools of standing water expected to persist long after the storm, there would certainly be concern about mosquito-borne diseases.

The major worry in Malaysia is dengue outbreaks. Mosquitoes might transmit the diseases in this situation.

source - flood list

Anxiety and Depression

When individuals begin the arduous job of reconstructing their life, they will confront a challenging undertaking that may be both psychologically and physically exhausting.

When we consider the major challenges affecting people’s health, we must consider the importance of rebuilding the community.

Individuals would be cut off from jobs and services that transport them to work, necessitating assistance with food and housing throughout the rebuilding process.

As healing progresses, individuals will become vulnerable to a variety of mental health concerns connected to the trauma they encountered.

It is critical for people to recognise that anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are normal, and for officials to ensure that these individuals have the means to get assistance.

Once the initial responders have left, public interest in the event and its aftermath often dwindles as well. That is when mental health problems and depression become visible.

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