The monsoon is here and so also the fear of diseases. Hospitals and doctors are preparing themselves for the inflow of patients who will come with complaints ranging from simple body ache and flu to serious complications as a result of walking in the stagnant puddles of rainwater.

Some common diseases during this season are acute gastroenteritis, typhoid, dysentery, malaria, cholera and leptospirosis and skin problems. On Saturday, the Chennai Corporation launched its medical camps in all 10 zones with a special emphasis on slums, said Health Officer P. Kuganantham.

Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, could be caused by walking on stagnant rainwater. The disease spreads through the urine of infected rats and from contaminated vegetables and fruits. People are advised to boil water and add chlorine tablets to their overhead tanks and sumps. The civic body has been to spray insecticides on waterways and stagnant pools of water to curb breeding of mosquitoes.

Director of Public Health S. Elango said there was a drastic fall in malaria and dengue cases in Chennai Corporation limits. The aim now is to address water-borne diseases. Under Section 62 of the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act of 1939, private medical institutions are required to inform the Corporation’s Health Officer about notifiable diseases. The government has distributed Rs.10,000 to each village health sanitation committee to help the local bodies to maintain proper sanitation, Dr. Elango said.

Doctors advise people to desist from open air defecation which is the major reason for spread of acute gastroenteritis.

A major problem associated with walking on stagnant pools of water is injury, resulting in infection to the feet. The Government Stanley Hospital’s Diabetology Department receives quite a number of patients after rain. Though there is better awareness of the disease, problems crop up as people walk barefoot resulting in foot ulcers, said R. Madhavan, head of Diabetology, Government Stanley Hospital.

Problems are compounded in persons who have lost sensation in their foot. “They are not aware of the injury and are susceptible to infection. Simple measures such as teaching the patients to clean their wounds and explaining the cleaning regimen at Corporation health posts would help,” he said.

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