Hepatitis A vaccine. Photo credit:

Hepatitis A vaccine. Photo credit:

The recent heavy rain and strong winds associated with Tropical Cyclone Raquel can increase the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, says the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the World Health Organisation.

The health authorities urged the public to take action to protect themselves and their families.

In a joint statement yesterday the authorities said Cyclone Raquel was downgraded to a tropical low, however, it has been predicted that extreme rain and wind will continue for several days.

Chair of the Ministry of Health Emergency Operations Committee, Michael Larui said health risks remains high.

The statement said heavy rain over several days can cause flooding and landslides, adding flood waters and mud can be dangerous for health and increase the risk of infectious disease.

It said exposure of skin to contaminated water can bring diseases such as leptospirosis.

The risk of serious diseases, including Shigella infections, hepatitis A and typhoid, also increases with reduced access to clean water and sanitation.

The health authorities advise communities to keep away from flood waters and using the water for drinking, cooking or washing.

Meanwhile the statement adds, heavy rain can also increase conducive breeding sites for mosquitoes.

It says the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and WHO have enhanced the disease surveillance system and are on the lookout for spikes in illnesses such as diarrhoea, fever, rash, and flu-like symptoms.

WHO Officer-in-charge Dr Audrey Aumua said people can protect themselves from getting sick during this extreme weather event through simple, yet effective action.

She adds,  washing of hands with clean water and soap, preparing and only eat safe food, boiling drinking water and preventing mosquito bites will help people stay healthy.

WHO encourages those feeling sick to visit health clinics and consult their local nurse.

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