Water borne diseasesChief Medical Officer, Dr. David Johnson has expressed concerns about the possibility of water borne and vector-borne diseases in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika.

He explained that the scarcity of water in some communities could give rise to water-borne diseases such as gastroenteritis, vomiting and diarrhoea.

He added that the Ministry of Health is also concerned about vector borne diseases because many have had no choice but to store water.

Stored water can promote the breeding of mosquitoes and can be contaminated by rats.

Vector borne diseases include dengue, chikungunya and leptospirosis, he said.

Dr Johnson added that many may have cuts and are walking barefoot if they have to because of the difficulty of getting from one community to the other. Such persons may be walking through dirty water that is infected with the urine or faeces of vectors (such as rats), exposing them to leptospirosis, Dr. Johnson stated.

He continued, “We do not want it to occur in Dominica at this time. We are working feverishly in terms of preventing those sort of diseases.”

Since drinking water may be contaminated at this time, the Ministry of Health is also advising citizens to ensure that drinking water is treated before consuming in order to prevent diseases.

“Until further notice, all drinking water should be boiled or treated using water purification tablets and the Environmental Health Arm of the Ministry of Health is now distributing these tablets,” Director of Primary Health Care Services, Dr Laura Esprit.

She advised that one aqua tablet can be added to one litre of water, while four tablets should be added to a gallon of water.

“Essentially what you do is you put four tablets into the container, leave it to stand for 30  minutes and then it is ready to drink,” she explained.

She added, “In addition to that we want to avoid purchasing local juices if you are unsure of the quality of the water that is being used to prepare those juices.”