How can possible epidemics be prevented in a disaster area?
Two strong earthquakes that occurred one after the other in Kahramanmaras on Monday, February 6, caused great destruction throughout the country. Unfortunately, in our 10 cities affected by the earthquake, thousands of buildings were destroyed, thousands of our people died. Along with this, the message of salvation comes from the region, which, after the earthquake, delighted millions of people. However, due to the great destruction, the struggle for the survival of our citizens who survived the wreckage, unfortunately, continues outside. Due to the great catastrophe in the region, serious health problems may arise. Epidemics are one such problem.
Injuries caused by hypothermia, dehydration, dust inhalation, and burial under rubble are unfortunately among the problems our survivors may face. So what action can be taken? What needs to be done to prevent possible epidemics in the region? Çağla Uren, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Professor at Gazi University Faculty of Medicine for Independent Turkish. Dr. Esin Davutoglu gave an extensive interview to Senol. Let’s look at the details together…
The earthquakes in Kahramanmaras also caused great damage to the infrastructure systems of our cities affected by the earthquake.
However, the harsh living conditions of earthquake victims could trigger epidemics such as cholera, dysentery and fever, as well as Covid and other viral infections in the region. Davutoglu Senol said that the infrastructure, sewerage and water supply systems of the cities in the region suffered great damage.There are gas leaks, toxic leaks, and secondary damage that can cause many health problems, such as sewage mixing with soil.“It is said.
In an earthquake zone, outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery can occur.
However, according to experts, the epidemics that may arise in the region are not limited to cholera and dysentery. Experts state that diseases such as RSV, Covid and influenza, which were in our country before the earthquake, can also quickly spread among the victims of the earthquake and become epidemic. “At the moment Covid is a bit active again”, says Davutoglu Senol, stating that the children are not vaccinated, and continues his words as follows:Covid processes, influenza, respiratory viruses, some bacteria and wound infections can be observed. Because many of our friends have to intervene in inappropriate conditions.”
Fever also poses a significant risk to the earthquake zone, Davutoglu Senol said.
Davutoglu Şenol, who said that pets were also left outside due to the earthquake, believes that this situation could cause various health problems in the region. Fever is one of the health problems that can occur due to this reason. Davutoglu Senol expressed his opinion on this issue as “Their feces and human feces are ingested, and there is also a risk of an outbreak of a fever that we call leptospira.explains in words.
Leptospira or leptospirosis is also sometimes referred to as post-Flood fever. The spiral bacteria infection, which shares the same name as the disease, can cause mild complaints such as headache, muscle aches, and fever. However, it can also cause serious health problems such as bleeding in the lungs or meningitis. It can spread through both wild and domestic animals. The infection can be transmitted by direct contact with animal urine or by contact with water or soil containing animal urine.
Cholera is one of the epidemic diseases that can be observed in the earthquake area.
It is known that earthquakes in the Kahramanmarash region have seriously affected Syria, and more than 3 thousand people have died so far. On the other hand, it is argued that the earthquakes have exacerbated the crisis in the region, where many epidemics and armed conflicts are already ongoing.
However, in northern Syria, hit hard by the Kahramanmarash earthquake last August, conflicts have destroyed infrastructure, increased cases of acute diarrhea, and in September the Syrian government declared a cholera epidemic in the region. As of January 16, 77,561 cases of cholera have been reported in Syria, with more than half of the cases occurring in the northeast of the country. The US-based NGO International Rescue Committee described the situation in the region as a “crisis within a crisis.” Considering all these sad factors, unfortunately, in our cities, affected by the earthquake, a cholera epidemic may occur.
Experts say water pollution in the region could trigger a cholera epidemic.
Cholera is a disease characterized by severe diarrhea due to an intestinal infection caused by a bacterium whose Latin name is Vibrio cholerae. It can easily spread in densely populated societies affected by situations such as war, natural disasters and poverty, resulting in loss of life. The main causes of the disease, which can sometimes be fatal, are water pollution and poor hygiene.
The risk of disease in demolition areas, where there is no established order and where camp life continues, is much higher than usual. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, which mix the sewer system with potable and industrial water, also greatly increase the risk of disease spread. The disease is transmitted by direct consumption of contaminated water or by eating foods that affect it. However, contact with sick people can also lead to transmission of the disease. In severe cases, diarrhea, vomiting, constant thirst, rapid weight loss, cramps in the arms and legs are observed.
So, what should be done to prevent possible outbreaks in earthquake-affected areas?
prof. Dr. Hygiene measures and, more importantly, clean water are essential to protect against infections and respiratory illnesses caused by viruses, Davutoglu Senol said. Davutoglu Senol drew attention to the need for clean water in the earthquake area and said:We recommend drinking curdled milk or using bottled water.” uses expressions. Davutoglu Senol on this occasion, “Now people rescued from the rubble or waiting for their loved ones under the rubble need to drink liters of water. One of the most important ways to prevent hypothermia is to drink plenty of water. This requires the delivery of large quantities of bottled water.” uses expressions.
One of the factors that must be taken into account to prevent the occurrence of epidemics are toilets.
Emphasizing the importance of portable toilets in avoiding serious health problems in the region, Davutoglu Senol says that these toilets not only provide privacy, but also reduce health risks. According to some reports from the earthquake area, survivors enter dangerous buildings or use gas station toilets to satisfy their toilet needs.
However, there are reports that these toilets are also very dirty. Davutoglu Şenol, stating that it is vital that toilets function without harm to health, also states that municipalities should be supported in the issue of sewer systems. So far, mobile toilets have been sent to the region as part of various humanitarian organizations. However, given the size of the area affected by the disaster, this number is completely insufficient …
Hospitals go a long way in keeping our people alive from the rubble.
Hospitals in some areas were completely destroyed due to the earthquake. Some hospitals are unusable. Many of our people are struggling with health problems caused by being under the rubble. For this reason, according to Davutoglu Senol, hospitals should be immediately established in the region. Davutoglu Senol expressed his opinion on this important issue: “In order for these people to survive, emergency hospitals must be set up in primary care where you can isolate patients as much as possible and meet them with well-established teams, where you first check their temperature and fluid balance, as well as their vital signs.puts it into words.
Can field hospitals meet the health needs of the region?
Short answer: yes. Equipped mobile hospitals that treat earthquake victims or patients on site before they are taken to a hospital, save the lives of thousands of people in many natural disasters around the world. For this reason, it is extremely important to quickly create field hospitals in our cities affected by the earthquake.
However, sufficient resources must be made available for the establishment of these hospitals. Many experts, including Davutoglu Senol, state that there are serious problems in this regard in Turkey. Davutoglu Senol on the topic “Turkey is in a very turbulent economic period. And as you can see, the distribution is not transferred to AFAD, but to other institutions and organizations. Settings are used elsewhere” uses phrases.
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