This week saw the start of the rainy season, a welcome relief to the heat and drought. But the rains also come with health warnings.
Thailand sees many more infections from respiratory viruses during the rainy season, perhaps because the high humidity allows the virus to survive longer on surfaces, or because human behavioural changes, such as staying indoors together when it’s raining, make it easier for a virus to spread.
In normal years the most dangerous of these infections would be influenza, or ‘flu’. But, of course, this is nothing like a normal year, and we have to hope that the coronavirus doesn’t also spread more easily in the rainy season. At least, social distancing, hand-washing and wearing face-masks will help protect against the flu virus as they do against Covid-19.
One notable difference between these infections is that we already have a vaccine against the flu. Be Well strongly recommends that you do what you can to protect yourself from flu, especially if you are a person at higher risk of serious complications, ie over 60 years of age or someone of any age with a long-term medical condition. Contact us if you are unsure.
The rainy season’s health warning doesn’t only apply to respiratory virus infections, however. Mosquitoes are much more common at this time of year and so are the diseases that they transmit, most notably dengue fever. To reduce illness spread by mosquitoes we have to make it harder for them to breed and harder for them to bite us.
Small, stagnant pools of rainwater in urban areas are a major source of mosquitoes and they should be eliminated as much as possible. Wearing clothing with long sleeves, long trousers and using insect repellant will help to protect against mosquito bites.
The mosquito that transmits dengue and similar viruses has white spots and stripes, and she bites during the daytime as well as at the more typical feeding times of dusk and dawn. For this reason, it’s advisable to take precautions throughout the day and not just in the evening. Note that when using sunscreen, it’s better to use insect repellant on top of rather than underneath the sunscreen.
Actually, there is a vaccine against dengue fever too but it has some serious drawbacks. It isn’t licensed for use in people over the age of 45 years and currently isn’t recommended for tourists or expats under 45 years either.
Please continue to look after your own health: wash your hands frequently and keep a safe distance from other people. When leaving your home, wear a face-mask and consider taking measures against mosquito bites at this time of year also.
The Be Well Team
Hua Hin, 19 April 2020