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Hygiene tips for protection against diseases

This topic deals with simple tips for protection against water borne diseases.

It is necessary to be careful about the water you drink and the water you bathe in, since water is a carrier for a number of diseases.

Drinking water - points to consider

  • Filter water with a cloth or mud pot or candle filter.
  • Boil water to 100°C for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • All fruit and vegetables that will not be cooked must be peeled after soaking them in treated water.
  • Do not eat ice-creams, drinks, etc sold by street vendors.
  • Recent studies show that many brands of bottled water contain high levels of contaminants. Surveys reveal that most of what is promoted as pure is just municipal water that has been refiltered and repackaged with slick labelling. If you do drink bottled water regularly, make sure that the bottle is properly sealed, opened in front of your eyes and crushed and properly disposed off to avoid reuse and adulteration (bottles are made up of PVC).
  • Clean your teeth preferably with treated water.

Bathing Water- points to consider

Bathing can expose the body to several diseases, notably bilharzia, leptospirosis and diarrheic diseases. Mud and sand can contain parasite larvae. Some preventive measures are

  • Avoid walking with bare feet.
  • Avoid bathing in untreated / contaminated water.
  • Ensure safe water supply - In rural areas this can be achieved by chlorination of water and replacement of shallow wells by sanitary wells.

Sanitation measures

This implies the proper disposal of excreta so that infection does not reach water, soil, milk, food or flies. It is essential to educate people for improvement in sanitation and personal hygiene.

Mosquito Control

Elimination of breeding places

  • The mosquito larvae and pupae develop in water; therefore, Swampy areas and stagnant water should be drained out.
  • Water should be prevented from stagnating in gutters, drains and depressions.
  • The domestic species can be largely controlled by eliminating receptacles that hold water such as tin-cans, buckets, cisterns, barrels, open tanks, etc.
  • If possible, the breeding grounds may be filled up.

Destruction of larvae and pupae

  • Larvicidal fish like sticklebacks, minnows, trout, etc. should be introduced in the ornamental fountains, ditches, ponds, lakes, canals, tanks, etc.
  • Keeping lakes, reservoirs and streams free of aquatic vegetation and other floating material provides the top- feeding minnows (gambusia) better opportunities to search out and feed upon the larvae and pupae.
  • Aquatic nymphs and adult insects (dragonflies), which are natural enemies of mosquitoes, should be encouraged.

Protection against mosquito bite

  • Houses in mosquito-infested areas should be made mosquito proof by screening all the doors and windows
  • While sleeping, mosquito nets should be used to keep away the mosquitoes.
  • The exposed parts of the body may be protected by the use of veils, gloves and boots or by the application of repellents, such as herbal anti mosquito creams, neem oil, mustard oil, oil of java citronella and eucalyptus oil, etc.
  • If you do not have mosquito proofing keep doors and windows shut during sunrise and sunset. Mosquitoes are on the move at these times in search of prey and of a more pleasant environment.

Source : CPR Environmental Education Centre, Chennai

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