Water crisis in the Western Cape

water faucet

The latest news regarding the water crisis indicates that Day Zero for Cape Town has been pushed back to 4 June 2018. However, current water restrictions in Cape Town are still set at using 50 litres or less per person per day. In addition, the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape have all been declared provincial disasters with the government declaring the drought affecting the southern and western areas of South Africa a national disaster. Bonitas Medical Fund has kindly sent through information on potential diseases that clients may be at a higher risk of contracting if they live in the affected areas: Gastroenteritis This disease occurs when you eat foods that are not prepared properly, drink contaminated water or have close contact with an infected person. In addition, you are more likely to get this condition if you have poor personal hygiene and don't live in sanitary conditions. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Your body needs to receive enough fluids to treat gastroenteritis. Drink oral rehydrate for mild or moderate cases. But if your case is severe you may need to go to hospital and receive intravenous fluids.

Hepatitis A This can cause nausea, diarrhea and jaundice. But it's not usually serious and most people make a full recovery in a couple of months with no long-term side effects. You can prevent this disease by getting vaccinated, maintaining good hygiene and being sanitary. Bronchitis and pneumonia and asthma Fire, dry soil and vegetation can increase pollen, smoke, fluorocarbons and cyanobacteria in the air. The presence of these toxins may irritate the lungs, increase the risk for bronchitis and pneumonia and make asthma worse. Dehydration This happens when you use or lose more fluid than you take in. And your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. The most common cause of dehydration is severe diarrhea and vomiting. You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids. But severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment. Mental health concerns Food prices may increase dramatically which can cause economic hardship and malnutrition. People who rely on water to earn a living may suffer financial hardship during the drought. These include farmers, landscapers, nursery owners, car wash owners, pool service owners, gym owners and their employees. Be aware that financial-related stress can cause depression, anxiety and other mental and behavioural health conditions. Tips to help your clients stay healthy during the water shortage

  • Boil water or use water purification tablets for the rain water you catch. But use this for flushing the toilet, not for drinking.

  • Use water purifiers or sterilisers when you wash raw veggies – with the Listeriosis outbreak as well as the possibility of a Hepatitis A outbreak we can't afford not to wash our fresh produce!

  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or wet wipes to keep hands clean (and hand cream because that stuff gets pretty harsh after a while!).

  • Bicarb and vinegar are excellent for cleaning especially as it doesn’t destroy water for grey use.

  • Dodgy tummy prep: Rehydrate, probiotics and medicine for stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Use vinegar in the toilet and drains to help with any odours and bacteria.

  • Clean with micro-fibre cloths or rags as sponges become unsanitary. It’s far easier to clean cloths and hanging them up immediately can delay them smelling. You can also throw rags away. Alternatively wipe down surfaces using wet wipes.

  • Do not drink non-potable water (grey water).

Please contact a GP if you experience any symptoms of the conditions listed above. We will continue to provide more tips and information on our website and social media pages to educate and empower your clients in handling the water crisis. Kind regards Bonitas Medical Fund

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