The monsoon season brings with it a refreshing break from the heat for both young and old, with children running in the rain, splashing in puddles, making paper boats and the whole family enjoying piping hot snacks and tea while relishing the scent of the first showers. The downside to this rainy season is that it brings with several communicable illnesses including mosquito borne like dengue, chikungunya, malaria or food and waterborne illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis A and airborne like influenza or other viral respiratory infections with the threat of Covid-19 still looming large.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Vishal Parmar, Consultant Paediatrician at Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road, suggested ways in which one can safely enjoy this season with their children. He advised, “Ensure that your drinking water is safe (use boiled water, especially for infants below one year). Avoid eating uncooked food like chutneys or salads and fresh juices/water from outside. Wash fruits and vegetables well before consumption.”
Talking about personal hygiene, he recommended, “Wash your hands and feet well after having stepped out. Nails to be kept trimmed and clean at all times.”
During monsoon cases of flu, hepatitis, typhoid, malaria dengue, food poisoning are increased. While every threatening disease doesn’t have vaccine available, there are vaccines available against flu, typhoid, hepatitis A, Japanese Encephalitis etc. Dr Vishal Parmar listed the vaccines that kids should get before or during monsoon to prevent infection:
1. Flu vaccine – Ensure that your child has had their yearly booster of influenza vaccination, which is preferably given during the pre-monsoon/monsoon season. Influenza (also called the seasonal flu) and Covid-19 can have a similar presentation with fever, sore throat or cough, making it difficult to differentiate. Hence, it is strongly advised to make sure that children above the age of six months are vaccinated annually with the influenza vaccine. Co-infection with Covid- 19 and influenza can present with more severe illness. Until the time that Covid vaccination is rolled out for children in India, the next best option would be to get the flu shot for your child. Breastfeeding mothers are strongly urged to get vaccinated with the Covid vaccine as well, so that the infant gets their immunity from the breastmilk.
2. Hepatitis A – Hepatitis A speciality targets liver function. It causes Jaundice, fever, vomiting and loss of appetite. In several cases child may need ICU admission or rarely liver transplant. Hepatitis A and typhoid spread via contaminated water and food. So their chances are increased during monsoon. Vaccine is available for kids who more than 1 year of age. 2 doses can be offered with 6 month gap.
3. Typhoid – Enteric fever spreads via contaminated food and water and is caused by salmonella bacteria which mainly targets intestines and causes prolong fever and other complications. Typhoid vaccine is available which can be offered to kids 6 month onwards. It needs single dose only.
4. Mosquitoes – They breed especially in rainy season. Keep them away by using a natural mosquito repellent, keep doors and windows appropriately meshed, avoid keeping empty pots or other areas around the house where rain water can stagnate and act as a breeding ground for mosquito larvae. Dengue and malaria are the common diseases spread by mosquitoes.
To take clothing precautions for kids, Dr Vishal Parmar said, “Ensure that your baby is well covered with ironed and dry cotton clothing and head protected from the cold. Avoid excessively warm clothes as excessive sweat and damp clothes can cause fungal infections. Avoid staying wet after having played in the rain, ensure your child has a warm bath and is adequately dried.”
He insisted on fixing leaking areas as moisture which accumulates from leaky walls and roofs can cause mold formation and can predispose to a flare up of allergies and asthma. As the threat of the waves of Covid-19 still looms large, let us not forget the basic principles of using masks, washing hands regularly and avoiding crowds and public spaces. Happy Monsoon!