Fever & infections may cost life- An urban perspective

Even though urban life looks polished and sophisticated from outside, epidemics and fever are not alien to urban people. The reason being, despite a modern lifestyle, our households & vocational places are themselves the facilitators of a breeding ground for mosquitos and other disease-causing microorganisms. This makes us even more prone to diseases like malaria, dengue, jaundice & typhoid

However, incorporating a few preventable measures in our lifestyle can help us tackle these problems effectively and can keep all the disease-causing agents at bay. 

Here, we list a few observations, carriers & disease-causing agents along with suggestions to counter them effectively.

School

Problem: Despite continuous cross-checks on cleanliness in schools, there stands a remote possibility of spread of diseases and various other infections, including fever. The two major sources from which a child can contract infections are the following- 

a) from peers 

b) from school environment (water, washrooms, playground)

Suggestion: Providing the child with hand sanitizers, mosquito creams, and sprays (mosquito repellents) can help to some extent. Along with these, making the child carry water from home can give certain protection against a number of water-borne diseases. Also, educating the children to use handkerchief or hand towels to cover their nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing is vital to cultivate as a practice. It would be the best option to take care of children suffering from flu or other seasonal illnesses at home, rather than allowing their exposure to other healthy children in school or residential communities. This can prevent the spread of infection from one child to another. 

Exhaustive accommodation versus capacity

Problem: With the increasing opportunities for career and various jobs, the graph of urban population is always increasing. The results are, compromised basic living standards, inadequate access to resources, frequent exposure to contagious environment, and unmindful waste generation which further worsens the situation. Improper waste management is always a burning problem in urban areas which goes unnoticed. 

Suggestion: Effective waste management should be considered at a personal level rather than attributing it to the society or government. Every person should individually take the responsibility of waste management, like disposing garbage and wastewater through safe methods. Example: dumping wet & dry waste in separate dustbins so that they can be segregated & disposed off easily. This simple practice has far-reaching effect as it allows recycling of the reusable wastes and biological decomposition of the organic wastes. This eco-friendly approach will not only keep your immediate ambience clean, but will also go beyond your residential circle, setting an example of waste management to be followed by all.  Along with this, there should be a constant check on water and resource consumption, as we are already on a margin line of resource and water depletion. Reducing wastage and thoughtful usage of water will conserve clean water for others, lowering their chances of getting infected and sick. 

Drinking water contamination 

Problem: People living in urban areas mostly consume bottled water which they believe is safe and microbe-free. But in certain instances, the so-called mineral and filtered water has been proven to contain microbes which can cause various water-borne diseases. The place of storage, the supply system, containers and the taps serve as sources of water contamination.

Suggestion: It is always safe to filter or boil the water before consumption and always make sure to store water in clean containers. The best method to avoid drinking water contamination is to rely on RO filtered water or if you are one among those who rely on mineral water cans, it is advised to transfer the water to clean containers immediately after you receive water from the supplier and add chlorine pills which are known to kill many viruses and bacteria known to cause many water-borne diseases.

Food habits 

Problem: Mostly the delicious-looking outside food makes us salivate & create a sense of temptation to go for them. But are we alert enough to check the trail event of making that food & the hygiene of the place where it has been prepared? In addition, the busy lifestyle of people in urban areas, leaves no time for food preparation and they end up ordering food from outside being unaware of the place, packaging methods and even the delivery process, which might further contaminate the food.

Suggestion:  Try to avoid outside food as much as possible and rely on homemade food. If your hectic schedule is not allowing you to prepare food at home, it is recommended to choose a trustworthy restaurant. If you are ordering food online, reheat the food immediately after receiving it, which decreases the number of disease-causing microorganisms to some extent. In addition, each time you consume outside food, try to have adequate amount of water that helps to flush out toxins effectively and speeds up metabolism. Avoid consuming fizzy drinks or diet cokes which may lead to indigestion and elevation of blood sugar levels.

Drainage systems, water logging problems

Problem:  The untreated sewage and the under-maintained drainage system is the leading water pollutant in our country. These poorly maintained drains overflow during the monsoon season inviting a host of diseases like diarrhea, malaria, dengue and others. When we pass through such open drainage areas, unwantedly, we get affected by the viruses and bacteria breeding freely to infect people. Throwing waste in open areas or disposing garbage without separating dry and wet waste also causes water clogging in drainages.

Suggestion: It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the environment clean by not throwing the trash everywhere. Keep your surroundings clean and to dispose the waste, use places provided by municipal authorities. Polluted and wastewater from houses should not be allowed to flow into open landscapes outside the house. Work on community level, take help of local authorities or government bodies to manage proper waste water disposal from your building or society. By following these steps, we can avoid water clogging and drainage problems to a larger extent. 

Unhygienic staircases & mosquito breeding 

Problem: It has been observed that majority of the urban population living in apartments dispose their trash near staircases and service lifts in a common garbage bin which is always overloaded and spilling all over. This becomes a potent breeding ground for many disease-causing organisms resulting in typhoid, jaundice, dengue and malaria. Similarly, mosquitoes also grow abundantly in places like unattended drainage holes, dumping areas etc.

Suggestion: One should think twice before throwing the waste anywhere. Always maintain the separate bins and have a dedicated space for waste disposal in the apartment. Also ensure to clean this space regularly to keep the environment safe and healthy.  This not only helps in eradicating breeding mosquitoes, but also lowers the risk of contracting various infections. 

Stagnant water in households such as clogged coolers, unclean parks, swimming pools 

Problem: In monsoons, stagnant water is the most common problem seen in every house. The water we use in water coolers, storage tanks, swimming pools etc. gets stagnated for many days without cleaning.  This holds a high possibility for breeding of mosquitoes and, when not cleaned properly, cause various germs and bacteria to grow.

Suggestion: It is advised to expunge stagnant water on a daily basis. Avoid children from playing in parks during monsoons, as the chances of getting affected by fevers like malaria, dengue etc. are high. When not in use, dismantle the chamber of the cooler and keep it dry to prevent water stagnation in your own house. Make sure to get into the swimming pools only after a thorough cleaning. 

Public places- park, bus stops

Problem: Though India is a progressive country, it is a shame to find people with the habit of urinating in public places like roadside walls, bus stops etc.  The stagnant urine causes abundant growth of microbes, flies and mosquitoes. The flies act as carriers of germs transmitting microbes from the source of origination to places of our routine interaction. They sit on the uncovered food items and when we consume these uncovered and unhygienic foods, we get infected with germs and suffer from diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, and others. They also lead to variety of skin and eye infections. 

Suggestion: Be a responsible citizen! Stop urinating in public places and use toilets. Wear a medical cotton filtering face mask before going to crowded places such as malls, theatres, railway station, or bus stops. Always carry a sanitizer and sanitize your hands before eating anything outside. Repeated touching of eyes should be avoided after touching anything in public because this may increase the risk of eye infections. Along with the cleanliness of house, cleanliness of surroundings is also necessary.

Servants & their hygiene   

Problem: Last but not the least, the most important factor of prevention is hygiene. In this modern era, most of the people are dependent on their servants to perform daily chores, right from cleaning to cooking.  These servants, indirectly become carriers of germs and infections as most of them may live in areas where there is no proper hygiene, thus pose high risk of transmitting infections.

Suggestion: Most of the servants usually live hand-to-mouth with paucity of time and resources for themselves. They are unaware of the trivial yet important aspects of personal hygiene that includes compulsory bathing with aseptic soap before stepping into work and washing hands frequently while at work. They also need to take special precaution with pet care and baby care and follow utmost hygiene protocols in the kitchen work. Take responsibility to create awareness on hygiene which will eventually help in creating a healthy community while reducing the risk of spreading infections.   Consuming contaminated food and water is one of the major reasons for infections. Advise your cook to wash the vegetables thoroughly before cooking. For non-vegetarians, make sure that you bring meat from neat and hygienic place, nevertheless, proper cleaning is important before cooking.

Despite taking all these precautionary measures, one can unknowingly get affected by any of the water-borne diseases. In such cases, seeking medical advice as early as possible is the only way out to protect yourself and your loved ones. Self-assumption and self-medication are not advised, as they may lead to serious medical complications while posing a high threat to patient’s life. Do not neglect to get yourself tested if your fever persists for more than three days. Take treatment and medication early enough to prevent the infectious disease get deeper into your system causing serious complications.

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