News / Asia

Thai Medical Authorities Concerned About Disease Outbreaks in Flood-Hit Areas

Residents staying at a concrete block, part of construction for an elevated train system, pass the time, in a flooded area on the outskirts of Bangkok November 11, 2011.
Residents staying at a concrete block, part of construction for an elevated train system, pass the time, in a flooded area on the outskirts of Bangkok November 11, 2011.
Ron Corben

Thai health authorities are on alert for outbreaks of disease as massive floods across the central plains show signs of receding. Medical specialists are especially concerned for communities inundated over several weeks, raising concerns of outbreaks of dengue fever, cholera and typhoid.

The United Nations says the death toll from Thailand’s most severe floods in five decades now exceeds 530.

But medical authorities say the government needs to remain vigilant to ensure the death toll does not rise further due to disease outbreaks.

Dr. Wongwat Liulak, an epidemiologist with Bangkok’s health department, says people are starting to run out of food and water. He says the diseases that would be of the most concern would be diseases of the digestive system, such as acute diarrhea and food poisoning.

Dr. Rekha Hanvesakul, a spokeswoman for BNH Hospital in Bangkok, says Thailand’s health system is facing major challenges in coping with the flood’s aftermath.

“It’s definitely a big challenge because of the quantity or mass of water that’s coming through. If it’s one or two days people can manage to deal with this. [But] because the quantity of or mass of water is so huge and a lot of people are living under these conditions for long periods of time disease becomes a real issue,” she said.

The Thai Public Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Sciences says a key concern is water-borne infections such as leptospirosis, due to water contaminated by animal urine. Other concerns include cholera and gastrointestinal diseases, such as typhoid. BNH also warns of poisonous snakes, scorpions, and centipedes pushed into people’s homes from the rising waters.

Asian Disaster Preparedness Center public health emergencies head, Dr. Marilyn Go, says children and elderly are especially vulnerable.

“The waterborne diseases are very common and acute diarrhea and e-coli or cholera will be the most common type as well as food poisoning and typhoid fever. The diarrhea can occur at anytime during the disaster,” she said.

But Dr. Somsak Chunharas, secretary general of the National Health Foundation, says the Ministry of Public Health has surveillance teams monitoring for outbreaks of leptospirosis as well as diarrhea related infections.

“I think the Ministry of Public Health has been doing quite a good job because they have set up a disease surveillance network and they have identified seven major diseases in the Thai surveillance system,” Dr. Chunharas said.

So far city officials have not reported any outbreaks of cholera or leptospirosis.  The main concern has been influenza spreading in the crowded conditions in flood evacuation centers.  

But medical practitioners see further problems as the water recedes. The Thai Senate this week pressed the government to begin water treatment in contaminated areas and take measures to prepare for possible post-flooding outbreaks. Other environmental groups warn against releasing toxic waters from inundated industrial estates without prior testing. 


You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid