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http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1104253766740_52?hub=World

Disease after tsunami could kill thousands

As many people who were killed in this weekend's earthquake-sparked tsunami could die from disease in the aftermath, says a top World Health Organization official.
Dr. David Nabarro, head of the UN agency's heath crisis team, told a news conference Tuesday that with flood waters contaminating drinking water and destroying sanitation systems, the region could be headed to for a health catastrophe matching the extent of the tidal wave disaster.

"There is certainly a chance that we could have as many dying from communicable diseases as from the tsunami," Nabarro said, suggesting the current death toll of 50,000 could double.

"The immediate terror of the tsunami may be dwarfed by long-term suffering in the affected countries where the risk of widespread disease is very high," he said.

"Our focus, with the governments and with civil society organizations throughout the region, will be on saving lives, preventing disease and promoting recovery of the essential infrastructure for public health and well-being," he says.

The WHO says it's particularly worried about malaria and dengue fever, which are endemic in southeast Asia.

The agency says flooding and stagnant water create favourable conditions for mosquitos. As well, overcrowding at temporary camps for the homeless will encourage the spread of disease.

CTV's Matt McClure, reporting from Colombo, Sri Lanka says what officials are most worried about is the lack of fresh drinking water.

"There is a real concern by authorities that people are resorting to drinking sea water or polluted water," said McClure.

What's more, water will be further at risk by the thousands of putrefying bodies lying in mud, said Jamie McGoldrick of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"The biggest threat ... is from the spread of infection through contamination of drinking water and putrefying bodies left by receding waters," said McGoldrick in Geneva.

OCHA head Jan Egeland says the costs of rebuilding will be staggering considering that the disaster encompassed such a large area and so many countries.

"The cost of the devastation will be in the billions of dollars," said Egeland.

Egeland said there could be epidemics of intestinal and lung infections, along with diarrheal diseases.

"The enormity of the disaster is unbelievable," added Bekele Geleta, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Southeast Asia.

For the most immediate needs, hundreds of relief planes packed with emergency goods were due to arrive in the region from about two dozen countries within the next 48 hours.

 

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I've had dengue pronounced ( den- gay ) fever, I would not wish it on my worst enemy. It is also called breakbone fever, because it feels like some one is breaking your bones. BAD stuff.
 

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Unless some of these Asian governments move to get this under control, the diseases could double the number of dead.
 
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