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Flooding: Health Precautions

With the recent heavy rain and flooding in many areas on Rarotonga, the Public Health Department would like to encourage the public to take extra precautions to avoid any unnecessary health issues caused by the flooding such as diarrhoea and increased risk of mosquito borne diseases.

There is a possibility that the flood water could also include faecal matter which may enter our water supply or make streams and the lagoon at river mouths unsafe to swim in.

Flooding has been shown to cause epidemics of water and vector borne diseases.

Water borne disease: the most prominent is diarrheal illnesses. This may result from the contamination of the water system through sewage overflow at the time of the flooding.

Vector-borne diseases: are those that are transmitted to humans by an insect. They are often caused by the mosquitos that breed in the stagnant waters, such as those left behind after the flood. Vector borne diseases include dengue, zika and chikungunya. The Cook Islands currently has no vector borne diseases- however certain conditions can increase the chances of the disease to infect a population.

There will be an increase in mosquito population which will become a nuisance therefore keeping your property free of mosquito breeding sites is important.

What you should do:

  • Use clean drinking water. Water can be purified by boiling.
  • Seek medical assistance when experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea or skin irritation.
  • Wash hands well with soap and clean water to stop transferring germs.
  • Keep property clean and get rid of mosquito breeding sites including tins, bottles, cans and anything that holds stagnant water.

Public Health tasks have included:

  1. Assessing flood affected properties and looking at:
  • Sanitation systems;
  • Mosquito borne breeding sites and
  • Any other health hazards

At-risk properties identified will be disinfected as appropriate.

  1. Assessed water drinking stations around Rarotonga with appropriate signage for safe drinking displayed. Blue means it is safe to drink and red means it is not safe to drink and precaution should be taken.

The public is asked to take the necessary precautions outlined above to avoid any unnecessary health risks that may arise from the flooding.

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Public Health on 29110.

Meitaki Ma’ata.