“The current” health situation in the areas affected by the flood “must be monitored continuously and constantly, according to an approach already started thanks to the action of the Civil Protection”. But “the important concept to highlight is that at the moment there is absolutely no alarm that could predict the appearance of epidemics. The situation will have to be monitored carefully, but there must be no alarmism”. This was declared by Claudio Mastroianni, president of Simit, the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases. “There is no health emergency in Emilia Romagna”, reassure the infectious disease specialists, who recommend the tetanus vaccination and invite you to follow the advice already disseminated by the Romagna Ausl.
“In flooded areas there are no conditions to speak of a health emergency – says Pierluigi Viale, full professor of infectious diseases at the University of Bologna – A possible risk is represented by tetanus, for which vaccination is recommended, especially for volunteers who they put their hands in the mud. To facilitate prevention, new doses of anti-tetanus vaccination will be made available to the local health authorities of Emilia Romagna. However, there are no further indications on the risk of gastrointestinal diseases”.
“It can be added that the Po Delta region, therefore the northern areas of Romagna, have been endemic areas for arthropods, which are vectors of tropical infections such as Chikungunya and West Nyle”, recalls Viale. Therefore “it is possible that the currently stagnant wastewater creates a microsystem favorable to these insects. However, there are no vaccinations for these infections – specifies the expert – therefore we can limit ourselves to alerting the public health structures to monitor any suspicious symptoms” .
‘Follow the advice issued by the Ausl’
The Simit infectious disease specialists relaunch the advice issued by the Romagna Ausl, which must be “followed to avoid the spread of any infections”, they warn. “The clothing recommended for those involved in the removal and disposal of material and mud” must include “gloves and boots in waterproof material, easily washable and disinfectable; clothing washable at 60°C (alternatively disposable coveralls or easily washable and disinfectable material); if possible, goggles or visor in washable and disinfectable material”.
As for the rules of conduct, one must “avoid contact with flood waters so as not to get contaminated with polluted water or soil. When this is unavoidable, the following advice is recommended: wear boots or sturdy footwear for protection; wear gloves when involves contact with mud/floodwater and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water; avoid touching your face, mouth and eyes with unclean hands. Always wash your hands after each contact with water and soil, including wet animals. Protect every lesion, graze, cut wound with waterproof dressings. Prevent children from playing with mud or flooded water; if this happens, immediately change clothes and shower the children with soap and running water”.
“For waste management – the Simit infectious disease specialists continue, recalling the advice of Ausl Romagna – wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water afterward. Pay attention to the type of waste/material you are handling, especially if chemical products or products containing toxic/hazardous substances, unknown materials and substances. For the disposal of bulky waste, follow the instructions provided by Hera. Do not obstruct the streets in front of houses with waste that could hinder the correct transit of emergency vehicles and the activities debris removal”.
Finally, “the recommendations for cleaning and disinfection invite you to clean hard surfaces such as walls and floors with hot water and detergents. If the surfaces are rough, you need to rub them with a stiff brush, remembering to protect your respiratory tract from dust. If things have been wet for more than two days, everything possible should be taken outdoors to dry Contaminated or moldy materials and debris that has been contaminated with sewage, water or mud should be removed, as should anything made of cellulose, wood or natural fibers, which can absorb water and sewage, as they can become growth grounds for molds dangerous to health, even if not visible. Clothes contaminated by mud and sewage must be washed in hot water”.
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