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Health experts urge strict measures against epidemics threats in Turkey's quake zone

Istanbul, March 4 (IANS) Turkish health experts urged authorities to take a series of strict measures to eliminate the threats of epidemics against public health in Turkey’s earthquake zone.

Bulent Ertugrul, an infectiologist and clinical microbiologist from Istanbul’s Reyap Hospital, said the challenging circumstances in the worst-hit zones create favourable conditions for spreading contagious diseases and respiratory tract infections.

“The diseases caused by contaminated food and water, from cholera to other gastroenteritis such as diarrhoea, are our primary concerns,” Ertugrul told Xinhua in an interview.

He emphasised the necessity to be “very meticulous” about supplying clean water to the region and providing lavatory facilities with hygienic conditions, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Additionally, we are in the flu season and the Covid-19 pandemic continues,” the expert noted, warning of much higher risks for those aged above 65 years and with underlying diseases.

For him, one of the simplest methods to eliminate the risks would be wearing masks.

Ertugrul also urged vaccinations against diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus for children.

“If we cannot fulfill this, we could soon face powerful epidemics,” he said.

The earthquake survivors require psychiatric and psychological support as post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders are widespread among citizens, the health specialist added.

Mehmet Ceyhan, Head of the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases of the Ankara-based Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine, warned about the dangers posed by rodents coming out after the damage of sewage systems.

“There is no officially reported plague case in rodent bites in Turkey, but there is a risk of infection from its bite,” Ceyhan told Xinhua in an interview.

He also urged the supply of rabies vaccines for the stray dogs in the disaster area, which had been rescued from the ruins and became homeless.

“At the moment, it is impossible to know the dogs’ vaccination status there. If you do not feed these dogs, they will bite people after a while,” Ceyhan said.

It has been nearly a month since at least 10 southern provinces of Turkey were severely hit by twin earthquakes on February 6.

The quakes not only killed more than 45,000 people and injured tens of thousands but also left millions homeless.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday that 214,000 buildings have been classified as either “collapsed, on the verge of collapse, or with severe structural damage” after the quakes.



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