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Stay out of floods—Health Ministry

Published: 
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

As cases of leptospirosis increase in southern parts of the country recently hit by flooding, the Ministry of Health is advising citizens to stay out of flood waters and to be careful when handling food.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry warned that flood waters may carry silt, raw sewage and bacteria that can contaminate food and water and make it unsafe.

“The risk of the infectious disease leptospirosis is especially high in flood situations, such as after a hurricane or heavy seasonal rains. Leptospirosis is spread by bacteria and, once diagnosed early, it can be treated.

“Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals (usually rodents, dogs, farm animals and horses). Animals and humans become infected by direct contact, by drinking or inhaling the infected urine, or water contaminated by urine,” the ministry said.

To reduce the risk of leptospirosis, the ministry advised citizens to avoid contact with animal urine, avoid contact with potentially contaminated water and to wear protective clothing such as boots, aprons, eye protection, or face masks.

Saying citizens should consume only clean drinking water, the ministry said food must be inspected carefully to determine if it may have come into contact with flood water.

“Discard open containers, packages and foods contained in bags, paper, cloth, fibre or cardboard boxes e.g. flour, cereal, rice, even if the packages were sealed. Throw away fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat that may have come into contact with flood waters. Canned food items may be safe for consumption but persons are advised to remove labels and disinfect cans thoroughly with a bleach solution before opening.”

The ministry said it will continue to visit food premises in the affected areas to guarantee that contaminated foods, especially meat, are not offered for sale to the public and are disposed in a proper manner. It said it will also inspect food processing facilities and liaise closely with farmers.

Members of the public who need assistance to clean outhouses or to have inspections and spraying can contact the nearest county medical officer of health, it added.