If you thought that piled up garbage was just an eyesore, which also happens to attack your sense of smell, there is certainly something more you need to be worried about. Apart from the rising cases of Dengue being reported in the city (which BBMP continues to deny), there are a host of other diseases which carry evident signs of the city heading for an epidemic. When City Express spoke to few doctors in the city, they told us that if the garbage pile up continues along with the rains, it can be a sure recipe for disaster.
“Garbage is like a bomb waiting to explode. It is a breeding ground for so many diseases,” said Dr Pramod, General Physician (internal medicine). He says that the impact also depends on the origin of garbage; whether it is infected garbage coming out of sewage, hospital or organic kitchen waste. Though organic or vegetable waste from the kitchen can be relatively less dangerous, garbage (of any kind) and rain can be a fatal combination. Dirt, on one hand, causes infection or diseases while water, on the other hand, helps in spreading it.
He added, “Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A, Diarrhoea are spread through insects, food, water and fomites (droplets). Malaria and Dengue are caused by mosquitoes. There are diseases like plague that can be spread through animals too, such as pigs, rodents and squirrels. In some rare cases, it can also lead to Japanese Encephalitis.”
Japanese Encephalitis is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes inflammation of the membranes around the brain.
He adds, “There are no vaccines for Dengue and Malaria, which is why you need to take extra care. For fever lasting more than 2 days along with vomiting, consult your doctor immediately. Body pain, fever, vomiting sensation, loss of appetite, loose motions are some of the most common symptoms to look out for.”
Bangalore has already registered 373 cases of dengue this year and three official deaths have taken place due to the mosquito-borne disease. Doctors say that though hospitals are filled with patients suffering from Dengue, other diseases (see box) are on the rise too.
Apart from this, doctors also warn people that the piled up garbage can also be a source of airborne and waterborne infections. Garbage piled up coupled with rain can spread the diseases even faster.
Rain has only increased the threat of epidemics. Piled up garbage coupled with rain can result in groundwater contamination too.
Dr Gangadhar Balavadi, CMO (Chief Medical Officer) of a government hospital, says that other than mosquito-borne diseases (Dengue), waterborne diseases like Hepatitis, Typhoid fever, Diarrhoea, Cholera, and groundwater pollution are causes of worry.
On what steps to be taken to remain safe, he said, “Drink boiled water, maintain personal hygiene, get yourself immunised for typhoid fever, apply mosquito repellent on exposed parts of the body, keep your windows closed or use mosquito nets. Avoid street food because insects carry infectious organisms which may be transferred to the surfaces of vegetables and sliced fruits sold on streets. Look out for symptoms like severe headache, abdominal pain, eye pain (retro orbital pain), vomiting, generalised weakness, curling around the eyes or face, etc. Passing less urine and red spots on skin occurs at later stages.”
People from across the city have been complaining about the prevailing situation; and the most vulnerable are the people residing in the slums where they are more exposed to filth and cases of dengue are also high.
Dr G S Ramachandra who runs a private clinic on Magadi Road said, “There are chances of an outbreak of plague and leptospirosis if the situation continues. It’s high time that people stop blaming the government and take the situation in their hands. Lack of civic sense is the biggest culprit. Segregating waste in a proper way can make all the difference.”
Some preventive measures
Drink boiled water
Eat freshly cooked food and avoid street food
Keep your windows shut, especially during the evenings
Maintain personal hygiene such as washing hands before eating
Apply mosquito repellent
Cover your face with masks or handkerchiefs
Throw garbage in a sealed recyclable cover, not in the open
Cover your body as much as possible
Don’t walk barefoot
Prevent water or garbage accumulation in your surroundings
Hepatitis, Typhoid fever, Diarrhoea, Cholera: Fever, vomiting and loose motion
Dengue: Body pain, fever, vomiting sensation, loss of appetite, generalised weakness. You may also experience severe headache, abdominal pain or eye pain (retro orbital pain)
If your fever lasts more than two days accompanied by vomiting, consult your doctor immediately.