A few months after the severe drought that hit the Amazon region, the rivers returned to normal volume, thanks to the rain — which is expected to last until March. The phenomenon of river flooding causes flooding, which brings to light a common problem at this time of year: the proliferation of flies. Insects that multiply very quickly and cause, in addition to being uncomfortable, diseases.
Contamination of water and food, due to these insects or other reasons, can cause diarrhea — one of the most common problems in children and can even lead to death. Data from the Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation – Dr. Rosemary Costa Pinto (FVS-RCP) show that Amazonas recorded 253,203 cases of Acute Diarrheal Diseases (ADD) in 2023. In the first eleven days of January alone, there were 4,677 cases.
Emergency room reality
Pediatric neonatologist and professor at the Federal University of Amazonas, Rossiclei Pinheiro, says that diarrhea is a seasonal disease and that it tends to increase during the rainy season.
“Today, 50% of cases that arrive at the pediatric emergency room are children who are dehydrated due to diarrhea. And 80% of cases are viral, caused by foodborne infections.”
The doctor also explains that taking care with food when preparing it is the best form of prevention.
Storage and handling
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) warns about taking care of the most vulnerable at this time of year. Lídia Pantoja, Unicef Health and Nutrition Officer for the Amazon region, explains that care must begin with storage — food must be kept in closed places, away from mosquitoes and animals. You also need to pay attention to the temperature, not leaving food in the sun or in open places. She also provides other important guidelines.
“Regarding food hygiene, it is important to wash your hands well before handling them — with neutral, fragrance-free soap and water. Avoid loose hair when preparing food. In relation to vegetables and fruits, it is important clean them very well before consumption, with water and the use of hypochlorite.”
The official also advises on meat and fish, which need to be very well cooked to ensure that the food is safe for consumption. Packaging, lids, cans also need to be washed with soap and water or cleaned with 70% alcohol and a dry cloth.
In case of contamination, care is essential
Garbage, in addition to attracting insects and other animals to the area where food is stored and prepared, is an ideal medium for the multiplication of microorganisms. Flies can be vectors of viruses, bacteria and parasites. Disposing of waste correctly, in closed bags and away from places where food is stored and prepared, also helps to avoid this contamination.
Diarrhea is an illness characterized by three or more episodes of loose stools in one day — and it can quickly lead to dehydration, especially in children.
“When we already find the child suffering from diarrhea, it is important to start drinking liquids as quickly as possible to prevent the child from becoming dehydrated. Ingesting homemade serum is important at these times, as well as increasing the intake of liquids such as serum , soup, juice, is also important”, explains the health official.
Additionally, take advantage of the region’s fruits, which have nutrients that help with recovery, such as guava and cashew. After each bowel movement, the child should drink at least 50 ml of liquid so that they are always hydrated. In the case of babies who are still breastfed, the mother must continue breastfeeding on demand. And if symptoms persist, it is important to seek a healthcare facility.
Edition: Zildenor Dourado
Zildenor Dourado has a degree in Journalism and Literature/Portuguese from the University of Brasília. He is a specialist in Legislative Communication, from Unilegis, of the Federal Senate. He worked as a reporter and editor for the newspapers Tribuna da Bahia, A Tarde and Jornal de Brasília. in addition to several union press vehicles. He worked as a publicist for the Legislative Chamber of the Federal District, where he was a reporter, editor and head of the Publicity and Press Relations Section.