The rainy season is here! It comes with a cool weather — a relief from the hot weather that has been experienced in the previous months, including a fertile period for crops - but it is also a good time for infections and illnesses to breed.
Anyone could get malaria anytime of the year, but experts warn that the rainy season is the period when the infection and other water-borne diseases such as jaundice, typhoid and cholera become rampant.
In fact, this is the period that doctors experience more patronage in their hospitals for treatment of cold-weather related infections.
On why the season is linked to increasing chances of malaria infection?
The Chief Medical Director, Royal Health Hospitals, Lekki, Dr. Shayo Okulaja, says the climate, during the rainy season, is the most conducive for the breeding of mosquitoes.
He says, “One of the most common illnesses associated with the season is malaria. Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium and transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito, which breeds in relatively dirty water.”
There is a great abundance of water during the period, and they can collect in many places, including the potholes, drainages and stagnant water in the community. With such avenues in place, the rainy season simply makes it a fertile environment for the breeding of mosquitoes.
It is not just malaria that people can get during this season; rather, the number of cases of water-borne diseases such as acute gastroenteritis, jaundice and typhoid also rises this because there is a greater chance that most water sources in the environment have been contaminated.
Okulaja explains that most water-borne disease are transmitted through faecal route; and when it rains heavily, many are washed away by floods and they flow into the water sources, which people unsuspectingly use for washing, cooking and drinking.
He says, “Water-borne diseases, like dysentery, diarrhoea, vomiting, jaundice and typhoid, are very common in the rainy season, especially in coastal areas like Lagos; and if drinking-water gets contaminated by infected water from wells, drainages and other sources, then there is a problem.”
Apart from mosquito or water-borne diseases, a physician, Dr. Dinesh Bapat, says there is also an increase in respiratory infections during the rainy season.
Bapat says colds, blocked nose and coughs are common complaints during the season. “If your immune system is low, you may instantly catch a cold after being exposed to the cool breeze that often accompanies rain showers,” he warns.
But the experts give some preventive measures that individuals, parents, families and caregivers must take to ensure that they do not get sick during the rainy season.
To prevent getting malaria, Okulaja says since heavy rain leads to stagnant waters, which create a good breeding place for flies and mosquitoes, maintaining general, personal and environmental sanitation and hygiene is very important.