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Risk of disease grows in disaster areas

Risk of disease grows in disaster areas

Taipei Aug. 25 (CNA) The unsanitary environment of many areas in southern Taiwan battered by Typhoon Morakot earlier this month has contributed to increasing numbers of people getting sick, including servicemen assigned to the area to help with cleanup operations.
Since Aug. 17, 105 people have visited the doctor in Pingtung County's Wannei village, complaining of coughs, fevers, deep muscle soreness and abnormal liver and kidney functioning. Thirty of them were sent to hospitals for follow-up treatment.
Tests conducted by Pingtung County's Department of Health, however, found that none of the villagers had contracted swine flu, which has already infected some individuals in disaster areas.
Health authorities now suspect they have leptospirosis, a bacterial infection, but the results of more thorough tests conducted will not be available for another two or three days.
Lu Meng-lun, an official with the Centers for Disease Control, explained that leptospira bacteria is known to infect people via animal urine.
Since the homes of all of the patients were flooded in the typhoon and remain muddy to this day, the villagers probably contracted the disease via dirty soil or water, contaminated by animal carcasses that were washed away by the flood, Lu said.
Leptospirosis symptoms include fever, chills, or lower leg pain.
The military and the Department of Health sent out disinfecting trucks and chemical specialists on Tuesday to disinfect the village as well as nearby Jiadong and Linbian townships, which also remained caked in mud.
The soldiers tried to make sure all the streets and fish ponds in the low-lying areas were properly disinfected.
Aside from the still unknown disease in flooded areas, a cluster infection of the H1N1 flu strain seemed to be spreading in the military.
The Ministry of Defense admitted at a press conference Tuesday that 41 soldiers have contracted swine flu since the first infection in the military was discovered July 27, of which four have taken part in disaster relief operations.
So far 36 soldiers have recovered and returned to their duties while the others remain hospitalized.
A total of 212 people in the army are believed to have come into contact with the four swine flu patients engaged in disaster relief efforts, but they are all in good health.
(By Julia Chien)




Updated : 2021-02-27 00:37 GMT+08:00