Authorities grappling with Thailand’s worst flooding in decades are now facing the potential spread of disease as contaminated waters spread deeper into Bangkok. Aid workers say at least two people have died from leptospirosis, a bacterial infection often spread through rat urine, and the risk of other diseases is expected to rise in the coming weeks whenever floodwaters recede, leaving standing pools of water behind.
A plague of mosquitoes, rats and cockroaches can also been unleashed by the flood waters.
After the floods, there is of worry about infectious disease outbreaks, particularly those spread though contaminated food and water, or through animals and mosquitoes.
Floods often lead to increased mosquito numbers which can lead to increased numbers of bites and potential for increases in mosquito-borne diseases. Standing water from heavy rainfall and flooding provides perfect conditions for mosquito breeding.
Mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, are a concern as well as eye infections and waterborne ailments that can lead to diarrhea and severe dehydration.
Skin diseases and fungal infections are the flood’s biggest plague so far, with nearly 100,000 cases of athlete’s foot reported. Bouts of diarrhea and respiratory infections are also common, especially with many flood victims sheltering in hot, cramped sites that may not have electricity or clean water.
The United Nations will provide 20,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets in temporary shelters and other areas in flood-hit Thailand in a bid to protect people from dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases, as weather forecasts predict more heavy rainfall over the weekend.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which procured the nets locally, said in a press release yesterday that it has set aside an initial $300,000 to support the Thai Government’s flood response efforts, focusing on health, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene.