- The devastating 2004
Indian Ocean tsunami has claimed up to 300,000 lives. Those lucky
enough to have survived the initial impact of the tsunami are still
in danger due to disease. Rotting corpses, smashed sewer lines,
overcrowded refugee camps and contaminated freshwater supplies in
the hardest-hit countries of India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia
all contribute to the spread of disease. "The initial terror associated
with the tsunamis and the earthquake itself may be dwarfed by the
longer term suffering of the affected communities,'' said Dr. David
Nabarro, head of crisis operations for the United Nations.
disposal, and the disinfecting of affected areas, was a primary
concern in the days following the tsunami. A significant amount
of time and effort was spent on this problem. Massive pits and
trenches were dug to quickly bury the dead bodies in hopes that
the spread of diseases would be minimized. Grave sites and corpses
were also sprayed with disinfectant to further combat the spread
of disease. However, the total avoidance of disease spread was
impossible. Infectious diseases such as yellow fever, diarrhea,
cholera, and typhiod fever are just some of the many that threaten
survivors of the tsunami.
- An infectious disease that spreads in areas of poor sanitation.
Nearly all of the coastal regions of the affected countries
suffer from poor sanitation. Cholera causes a combination of
diarrhea and vomiting and death can come within hours after
contracting the disease. The primary treatment is oral rehydration
with a mixture of water, salts and sugar. Overall, most countries
have been successful at avoiding cholera outbreaks.
Fever - The main cause of typhoid fever in disaster
zones, and results from sewage contaminating the drinking water.
It mainly affects the elderly and the weak who consume contaminated
food and water. The December 26 earthquake, along with the wall
of water that hit shore, caused sewer lines and holding tanks
in many coastal areas to rupture, allowing raw sewage to mix
with freshwater sources. Toilets are nearly non-existent in
hard-hit regions. Chlorine has been used to kill the disease-causing
bacteria in contaminated water.
diseases and rashes - This category includes chicken
pox, measles, scabies, fleas, and lice. The overcrowding of
refugee camps, combined with the poor sanitation and damp, muggy
conditions helps generate such diseases. The fleas and lice
are of special concern because they carry typhus, an incredibly
dangerous disease that could spread rapidlly if proper measures
are not taken. Typhus causes headaches, vomiting, diarrhea,
and can lead to pneumonia and swelling of the liver and spleen.
If untreated, typhus can be fatal. Some prevention measure include
topical antibiotics but increased hygiene in affected areas
in the primary concern
the two most dangerous...
- The mosquito-borne
diseases of malaria and dengue fever may pose the greatest threat
to survivors of the tsunami. Both diseases were already an epidemic
in many of the affected countries even before the tsunami hit.
The combination of the tsunami and the heavy rains that followed
has created the largest mosquito breeding grounds the affected
nations have ever seen. Stagnant pools of water dominate the coastal
landscape and are optimal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Literally
millions upon millions of mosquito hatches will take place in
these stagnant pools. Mosquitoes are such a concern that the use
of DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane)
for prevention measures. DDT is the most effective killer of mosquitoes
on the planet, but the negative environmental effects of DDT has
so far prevented its use. Malaria and dengue fever cause vomiting,
diarrhea, muscle aches, fever, and can both be extremely fatal.
Experts say that the
"second wave of deaths" due to the spread of disease
has been successfully avoided. Speedy, coordinated action by relief
agencies and the governments of the affected countries meant that
the numbers affected were much lower than they could have been.
Outbreaks of most diseases were confined to refugee camps and
most epidemics were avoided completely. However, the some threats
still remain and affected areas will be under close observation
until the threat from diseases is completely gone.
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