Experts analyze infectious diseases in Turkey's earthquake zones
A team of Turkish infectious disease and public health experts has investigated the risk of contagious diseases in earthquake-affected communities. The report, published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet, warns of the need for stringent mosquito control efforts, especially in high-risk areas such as Mersin and Adana, to avoid possible epidemics.
Researchers from Istanbul Medical Faculty, Ankara Medical Faculty, and Koc University Is Bankasi Infectious Infections Research Center (KUISCID) have published a study highlighting the danger of infectious infections in earthquake zones. Due to the high number of cases in nearby Syria, the threat of cholera is also evaluated, along with other infections, including those characterized by diarrhea and diseases such as measles and rubella, which can be prevented through vaccination. The paper also discusses the immediate measures needed to stop the "Anopheles" mosquito species, a primary malaria vector in the area.
Professor Dr. Onder Ergonul, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology at Koc University's Faculty of Medicine and founding director of KUISCID, highlighted the increased risk of infection following significant earthquakes. The study attempts to develop a systematic roadmap to address infection risks based on an extensive review of historical and contemporary diseases in the area.
The health risks for earthquake victims in the affected area, some still living in temporary shelters, are exacerbated by rising temperatures. The medical professionals highlight potential health problems that could affect vulnerable populations, including the elderly and children, whose lower immune systems make them more susceptible to infections, such as brain hemorrhage, high blood pressure, and severe dehydration.
In areas such as Mersin, Adana, and Cukurova, once malaria-endemic regions of Turkey, the study explicitly calls attention to the likely resurgence of malaria. The mosquito vector must be controlled if malaria is to be eradicated. The paper also raises concerns about diseases that could be dangerous in the area, such as oriental furuncle, West Nile fever, and dengue fever.
The study also emphasizes the value of vaccination in preventing diseases, including measles, which is extremely dangerous to human health, especially in young children. To prevent the future spread of viruses, the team recommends surveillance and early detection of diseases.
A WHO and Pasteur Institute-level laboratory is now being established in Antakya, a severely damaged city. This laboratory will be essential for improving public health measures and quickly identifying potential epidemics. With the help of the General Directorate of Public Health, KUISCID is working hard to establish a laboratory in the area that will be operational within a month and will be a crucial tool for disease identification and training of doctors.