ECDC | Concern over infectious diseases in earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria
Defence Redefined
Published on 21/02/2023 at 17:15

The immediate health needs following the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria are mainly related to injuries and disruption of health care.

However, infectious disease threats may be a concern over the next two to four weeks, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement.

A wave of cholera cases in the affected areas is a significant possibility in the coming weeks, ECDC notes. Cholera is a concern in war-torn northwest Syria, where authorities have reported thousands of cases as the country tries to control an outbreak since September 2022. A planned vaccination campaign that was interrupted by the earthquakes must be accelerated, it is pointed out.

ΕCDC notes that food- and water-borne diseases, respiratory infections, and vaccine-preventable infections are a risk in the coming season, with the potential to cause outbreaks, especially as survivors move into temporary shelters.

Damaged utility infrastructure, leading to limited access to clean water, inadequate sanitation, inadequate refrigeration, and cooking systems, may increase the occurrence and transmission of food- and water-borne diseases.

In addition, other food- or water-borne diseases can cause viral infections in camps, such as hepatitis A, norovirus, and rotavirus, infections caused by parasites or bacterial infections. The availability of clean water and food-related control are among the top measures to prevent the spread of these diseases.

Also read: Earthquake in Turkey | Aid from Cyprus finally accepted – Countries sending aid

ECDC also highlights that respiratory infections are a particular concern, especially in cold weather, and the risk of outbreaks increases as survivors are moved to temporary settlements, where overcrowding cannot be avoided.

COVID-19, seasonal influenza, and other respiratory viruses circulate at moderate to high levels in the region. The very young and the elderly are more vulnerable to complications from these infections and outbreaks will put additional strain on already damaged healthcare systems.

Similar to viral respiratory infections, crowded conditions in temporary settlements can increase the risk of transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, chickenpox, meningitis, or polio.

Rescuers are at increased risk of tetanus from injuries and open wounds caused by contact with the debris. Tetanus prophylaxis should be offered according to existing national guidelines.

Finally, ECDC states that the establishment of health surveillance systems by public health personnel will facilitate early warning and detection of outbreaks. International organizations plan to deploy mobile laboratories in the affected areas and may also provide expert assistance to the two affected countries.

Source: CNN Greece

Also read: Earthquake in Turkey | Five flights from El. Venizelos send humanitarian aid – Mission with humanitarian aid to Syria as well




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