As the seasons change and the weather shifts, you must keep mindful of your health. At times there will be rain, at times, sun; so make sure to take with you your umbrella as well as your hat. The Disease Control Department of the Ministry of Public Health has predicted five rainy season illnesses which all people should be careful of:
1) Dengue Fever – Between the months of May to September of 2015, the number of cases will increase due to seasonal outbreaks, with about 5,000 to 12,000 expected cases per month. During the months of June and July, the number of cases will likely exceed 10,000 per month, with equal number of death of both children and the elderly. Risk factors for death include not seeing a doctor promptly which results from sick individuals, especially adults, who prefer to treat their fevers themselves, such that by the time they visit the doctor, their disease has become quite serious.
2) Influenza – The number of flu cases this year will continually rise through the rainy season from May onwards, at a rate of 3,000-10,500 cases per month with a peak between August and September. Break outs will likely occur in the Northern provinces, the greater area of Bangkok, and large provinces where many people commute such as NakhonRatchasima. The populations most at risk for death include children, the elderly, and the chronically ill. The most lethal strain of influenza is the A(H1N1) 2009 virus, for which the Ministry of Pubic Health has provided vaccines to those most at risk.
3)Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) –HFMD is expected to break out this year during the months of June and July. The number of cases is expected to be around 11,000-15,000 per month, close to 2014 levels. After that, the number of cases will decrease, never exceeding 10,000 per month. In the year 2015 there has been one documented case of death which was caused by the enterovirus 71 (one of the virus strainsthat causes HFMD).
The group highest at risk for infection and death is small children, who easily contact the disease at preschools and kindergarten. Thus preschools and schools everywhere should pay careful attention to preventing infections. According to guidelines issued by the Department of Disease Control in the Ministry of Public Health, people should keep an eye on any child with daily recurring symptoms. If a child is found to be symptomatic, they should be kept away from others and a local health official should be notified immediately so as to prevent further spread of the disease to other infants.
4)Conjunctivitis – Disease forecasts predict two scenarios. If no major outbreaks occur, the number of cases per month between May and September of 2015 will probably be between 9,000 to 11,500 cases per month without much escalation during the rainy season. If major outbreaks do occur due to the presence of flooding, such as occurred in 2014, case numbers may increase to between 35,000 to 45,000 cases per month between August and September.
Therefore areas at risk for flooding should have measures in place for prevention and treatment and should contain outbreaks from initial onset, emphasizing those affected by floods and localeswith dense concentrations of people, such as disaster shelters, prisons, dormitories, and schools.
5) Poisonous Mushrooms–In 2014 and 2015, there were many cases of illness and death during the rainy seasons, especially during June in the North and Northeast where it is popular to forage and consume wild mushrooms, which can be easily misidentified. Serious symptoms of poisonous mushrooms includeproblems in the digestive tract, with resulting from severe diarrhea, problems with the nervous system, liver failure or kidney failure. Mushrooms in the Amanita family have a poison which is heat-resistant. Even if cooked well, such as by boiling or cooking into curry, these mushrooms can still be lethal. People should be reminded to avoid taking the risk of collecting forest mushrooms, especially mushrooms which closely resemble dangerous varieties, since observation with the naked eye or and local wildlife loreare not sufficient to identify which mushrooms are poisonous and which are not.
Now that you’ve learned about this issue, make sure to use caution. If you know ahead of time, you’ll be able to keep yourself safe.
Dr. Sophon Mekthon