People eagerly wait for summer - atmosphere of fun, plenty of fruit and vegetables, heat and beach time. But as the saying go, every barrel of honey has its spoon of tar. Summer period is the time when intestinal infections, in particular enteroviruses, become active and multiply fast in water and foodstuff. In an interview with deputy chairman of the State Sanitary and Epidemiologic Service of Ukraine Oleksandr Krvchuk, ForUm has learned about what enterovirus infections are and how to avoid them in summer period.

Unexpected guests, or Who is there

Back in1940-50s parents often kept children home, forbidding them to go out and play with peers, and all because of the fear of enteroviral infections (infectious diseases caused by enteroviruses which in turn cause damage of central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, muscles, heart, eyes and skin). "The infection is very insidious. There are about 70 types of enteroviruses. Historically, poliomyelitis was the most significant disease caused by an enterovirus," Kravchuk says.

According to him, infections are spread through the fecal-oral route - dirty hands, contaminated water or food. "Moreover, infection can spread through contact or air. Though these two modes of transmission are not principle, they should not be ignored," the official warms.

Infection can result in a wide variety of symptoms. "In many cases a person is just a carrier and does not feel the disease, but can transmit it to others," Kravchuk states.

Symptoms manifest differently for every person, ranging from mild respiratory illness (common cold), hand, foot and mouth disease, acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, aseptic meningitis, myocarditis, severe neonatal sepsis-like disease, and acute flaccid paralysis. Aseptic meningitis is the most typical and severe manifestation of enteroviral infection. "It starts all of a sudden. A patient may have running temperature, headaches, vomiting reflex, as well as backache, stomachache and catarrhal signs. Core symptoms include neck muscle hypertonia, when a person cannot incline the head and press the chin to the chest," he explains. 

If you distinguish the above-mentioned symptoms, visit a doctor immediately. "The earlier you ask for help, the lighter the disease will run," Kravchuk points out.

Preventive measures

Preventive care is the only effective method to avoid enteroviral infection. "Wash your hands all the time, not only after visiting toilette or before eating. Always take wet napkins with you and clean you hands after contact with other people. Coming home, go to wash your hands immediately. Moreover, don't drink water from unknown sources, but use bottled water. Acidic media of soda water does not let bacteria to multiply fast," Kravchuk recommends. It is also recommended to wash fruit and vegetables in water of guaranteed quality.

Kravchuk also advises to avoid close contact with people in crowded areas, especially it concerns children. "Don't bring your child to some mass events, where it can be crowded and people will breathe at him or touch with dirty hands."

Water we swim in is also a source of enteroviruses, as well as other infectious agents. We often disregard that this water get into mouth, which is very dangerous, especially after the rain. "In 90% of case the water quality worsens after the rain. Thus, don't go swimming right after," Kravchuk insists. "If you go to the beach and there is a drain near, remember to stay away from it, as it is the most contaminated place," he adds.

Got infected anyway?

If despite all precautions you have nevertheless joined the sad statistics of infected patients, you will undergo lab examination. "First thing to do is to remove focus of the disease and carry out anti-epidemic measures, and isolation of the patient is one of them. Patients with symptoms of enteroviral infection must be placed in the contagious isolation ward," Kravchuk explains.  
Among other anti-epidemic measures he points out cleaning and disinfection. "The virus is sensitive to antiseptic drug, and even simple wet cleaning can help to stop the spread of the disease," Kravchuk says.

Thus, stay alert, wash you hands, do wet cleaning, drink high-quality water and summer will open its arms for you. 

Daryna Schwarzman


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