BENGALURU: The monsoon season brings with it a refreshing break from the scorching heat, invigorating 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 only downside to this season is that it brings with it, several communicable illnesses; be it a) mosquito borne like dengue, chikungunya, malaria, b) food and waterborne illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis A, c) airborne like influenza and other viral respiratory infections, and not to forget the threat of Covid-19 still looming large.
Here are a few ways in which one can safely enjoy this season with their children.
1 . Food and water: Ensure that your drinking water is safe, as far as possible 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.
2. Hand and personal hygiene: Wash your hands and feet well after having stepped out, whether it is just a short walk to the neighbourhood grocery store or playing in the rain in your own compound. Nails to be kept trimmed and clean at all times.
3 .Vaccination: 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.
4. Mosquitoes: They tend to breed especially this season. Keep them at bay by using a natural mosquito repellant, 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.
5 .Clothing: Ensure that your baby is well covered with ironed and dry cotton clothing, and head protected from the cold . However, avoid excessively warm clothes; 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.
6. Fix those leaks: 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 third wave of Covid looms large, let us not forget the basic principles of using masks, washing hands regularly, avoiding crowds and public spaces. Let not the relaxation of lockdowns allow us to let down our guard. (The writer is senior consultant neonatologist and paediatrician, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road