During the rainy season, many regions of the country were hit by rounds of typhoon and heavy rain fall. Consequently, ordeals such as the most recent Jakarta Flooding occurs (February, 2017). This results in not only housing and material damages but also health casualties and even death. Flooding is also a consequence that follows heavy rain falls, overflowing of rivers and un-drained water path. Floodwater can rapidly be contaminated with sewage water, human waste, animal waste, animal corpses, regional soil pathogens as well as dirty solid particles, and chemicals.

Jakarta Flooding, February 2017

As quoted by The Jakarta Post on 21st February 2017:

Floods hit 54 areas throughout the capital city on Tuesday, disrupting traffic and the operation of public transportation.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported that thousands of houses were inundated by floodwaters reaching various levels, ranging from 10 centimeters to 150 centimeters.

“The floods occur because the city’s drainage system cannot accommodate the overflowing water,” BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a press release.

Sutopo said the 54 areas were located in South Jakarta, East Jakarta and North Jakarta.

The floods have also affected the operation of public transportation.

Jakarta Flooding; Health Hazard!

Flood water, besides increasing the risk of water and food contamination, can also be the source of vector breeding sites (e.g. mosquitoes, rats, etc) and venomous animals (snakes, scorpions, centipedes, etc). As a result, during the flood and its aftermath, there are also threats to the safety and health of the community. Therefore, if there are no well-organized measure and public instructions for having good sanitation, hazard precaution, and immunization towards preventable communicable diseases, individual injuries or community endemic and epidemic diseases may occur.

The major public attention is normally paid to the risk of physical property destruction (cars, houses, other properties) caused by floods. However, VaxCorp Indonesia strongly suggests that each of us remembers and practices some basic precautions to prevent possible diseases and injuries during and after flooding and to maintain good health during the repercussion of floods.

Keep in mind that flooding affects the community and surrounding environment. Thereby, the risks of the aftermath of Jakarta Flooding affects us all as a community. Diseases are mainly transmitted from one person to another by air and droplets (sneeze, cough, etc), direct contact (touching) and contaminated food & water, through animals, and as a result of physical hazards (falling, drowning, punctured by sharp objects, etc).

flooding in Jakarta

Water & Food-borne Diseases (Jakarta Flooding, 2017):

Flooding is associated with an increased risk of water and food-borne infection. Direct contamination of drinking & bathing water sources are huge health risks and infections. Epidemic-prone infection which can be transmitted directly from contaminated water are

  • Leptospirosis; a zoonotic bacterial disease. Transmission occurs through contact of the skin and mucous membranes with water, damp soil or vegetation (such as sugarcane) or mud contaminated with “rodent urine”. The occurrence of flooding after heavy rainfall facilitates the spread of the organism due to the proliferation of rodents which shed large amounts of leptospires in their urine.
  • Typhoid Fever; the most common digestive infection in Jakarta (especially during Heavy Rain Season & Jakarta Flooding). Typhoid claims more than 600,000 lives annually, with an incidence rate of nearly 200 per 100,000 population in Jakarta, of which 20% cases require hospitalization. Transmission occurs through consuming contaminated food and water. Common causes of contamination includes poor hand sanitation, poor food handling sanitation, contamination of utensils (plate, spoon, mug, etc) by dirty hands and/or houseflies, undercooked meals and water, etc.
  • E-coli, Norovirus, Rotavirus, etc; common viruses that causes viral, explosive diarrheas. More common, and severe in children under 5 years old causing Febrile Seizures (Kejang Demam), or Hypovolemic Shocks and Electrolyte Imbalances.

Air-borne Diseases (Jakarta Flooding, 2017)

Increased humidity and rainfall leads to a rise in virus epidemics like Influenza. Other respiratory illnesses includes Bacterial and Viral Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Lower Respiratory Tract Infections, Tuberculosis, etc.

Vector-borne Diseases (Jakarta Flooding, 2017)

Floods may indirectly lead to an increase in vector-borne diseases through the expansion in the number and range of vector habitats. Standing water caused by heavy rainfall or overflow of rivers can act as breeding sites for mosquitoes, and therefore enhance the potential for exposure of the disaster-affected population and emergency workers to infections such as Dengue Fever / Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (commonly referred by Indonesians as Demam Berdarah or DBD).

Other Diseases and Injuries (Jakarta Flooding, 2017)

There is an increased risk of infection of water-borne diseases contracted through direct contact with polluted waters, such as wound infections, dermatitis, conjunctivitis, immersion foot, and ear, nose and throat infections. However, these diseases are not epidemic-prone. Injuries may include puncture wounds, falling, scraping, drowning, electrocution, etc.

Combating Diseases!

Water-borne illnesses

Many water-borne illnesses are bacterial in nature and can be fought with antibiotics; however rehydration is also a major aspect of the treatment. In its Flooding and Communicable Diseases Fact Sheet, the WHO suggests several ways to combat water-borne diseases:

  • Use clean drinking water.
  • Water can also be purified by boiling or treating with chlorine.
  • Oral rehydration salts to treat dehydration.
  • Appropriate and proper use of antibiotics to combat bacterial infection, and prevent resistance.
  • Use analgesics to reduce fever.
  • Wash hands well with soap and clean water.
  • Wash any unpackaged food in clean water. Avoid any food that may have come into contact with contaminated flood water.
  • Avoid playing/swimming in the flood water. If it is unavoidable, wash with soap vigorously after.
  • Wash all clothing that has been in contact with contaminated flood water.
  • Disinfect all children’s toys that have been in contact with contaminated flood water.
  • Vaccinate against hepatitis A.

Vector-borne Illnesses

The CDC suggests the following ways to protect against vector-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Be especially wary at dawn and dusk because more mosquitoes are active then. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
  • Put screens on open windows and use nets over beds.
  • Drain standing water.

Reducing Human-Human Transmission

To reduce Human-Human transmission either via air, droplets, and direct contact:

  • Maintain hand hygiene, wash hands with soap and water or keep an antiseptic lotion/tissue around
  • Cough/sneeze to your elbow, not to your hands. Especially not without covering your cough/sneezes
  • Proper ventilation and allowing sunlight into your home is important to prevent molds and fungus from growing, and also to prevent transmission of Tuberculosis
  • Vaccinate! Vaccination protects yourself and prevents others from getting infected by you!
  • SPEAK UP when others are endangering your safety! Remind them to cover their coughs/sneezes, and to wash their hands before handling food-related items.

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