Ministry of Health warns about waterborne diseases

By Benjamin Flowers
Assistant Editor

In the wake of Hurricane Earl, the Ministry of Health is cautioning residents in affected areas about the health hazards of flood waters.
To address a growing concern about a spike in cases of water-borne illnesses, the ministry issued a release on Friday, containing several post-storm safety guidelines including how to make drinking water safe.

The ministry advised residents to sanitize drinking water by adding bleach, ensuring that the mixture is one tablespoon to five gallons. After adding bleach residents are to let the water settle for at least 30 minutes before drinking. The ministry also cautioned about using bleach products that contain perfumes.
Other tips included boiling water to a bubbling boil for one minute, and adding water purification tablets according to directions on the package. The Ministry of Health also warned residents to avoid trying to sanitize dark colored water, or water with an odor.

Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, explained that the ministry is cautioning people about walking through or playing in flood waters, because contaminants may also pose a threat to their health.
“There is no reason why people should make contact with flood water unless it’s to make it from one point to the next,” Manzanero said. “Flood waters have all sorts of contaminants, therefore we at the Ministry are strongly discouraging coming in contact with it unless absolutely necessary.”
Manzanero added that after its initial damage assessment of facilities and the human resource assessment on Thursday, the ministry has been deploying public health teams to affected areas in an effort to educate persons about what they can do to preserve their health.

The ministry is also preparing at the clinical level for an increase in illnesses such as skin infections, from people coming into contact with flood waters; gastro-intestinal infections and upper respiratory tract infections from people coming into contact with contaminated water and environments.
All of the MOH’s facilities are fully operational for residents to seek medical attention, and the ministry intends to keep deploying teams into affected areas in the coming weeks.

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