THE onset of the rainy months, which significantly coincide with the opening of classes, pose a serious challenge to parents concerned with the health, safety, and wellbeing of their children, who walk or commute to school.

The Department of Health has started posting tips on how to protect our children from diseases associated with the rainy season. Apart from pneumonia and diarrhea, which are the top diseases among children worldwide, illnesses associated with the rainy days are: colds, fever, flu, cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, malaria, cholera, and typhoid fever.

There is no substitute for prevention. Ensure balanced nutrition and regular intake of vitamins, especially Vitamin C, to boost your child's immune system. As the age-old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Getting soaked in the rain and in flood waters may lower your child's immune system and make him/her more prone to catching the colds or flu virus. Thus, it is important to keep our children dry as much as possible. Provide them with proper protection from the rain, i.e., umbrella, raincoat, jacket, rain boots or other types of waterproof shoes.

Keep children away from crowded and poorly ventilated public areas where the virus can easily spread. Warn children against walking, wading, or swimming in floodwaters, which may be contaminated with urine of infected animals and thus cause leptospirosis. Prevent dengue-causing mosquitoes from breeding in stagnant water by draining empty containers i.e., bottles, cans, tires, drums, and the like. Discourage children from eating street foods which may be contaminated due to unsanitary handling and possible use of unsafe water; provide them instead with homemade packed lunches and snacks. Teach them proper hand washing with soap and clean water after using the comfort room and before and after eating. Sterilize plates, eating utensils, drinking glasses used by a sick member of the family, and separate these from those that are used by the rest of the household members.

On top of these precautionary measures, it is always prudent to consult a doctor at the first symptom of illness, as this will not only address the cause of the symptoms immediately; it will also prevent the spread of infection/virus to the other household members. MABUHAY!