Via The Lancet: Disease outbreaks predicted in flood-ravaged Balkans. Excerpt:
Communities in the Balkans devastated by the worst floods the region has seen in more than a century are now facing the threat of lethal disease as waters recede.
At least 50 people have been killed with the death toll expected to rise as hundreds of people are still unaccounted for. Tens of thousands of people have been made homeless as towns and villages were submerged in Serbia, Bosnia, and parts of Croatia.
But with the rains having stopped, temperatures rising, riverbanks clotted with dead livestock, and contaminated water supplies, health officials say an almost perfect breeding ground for disease and sickness has been created.
Radovan Cekanac, an epidemiologist at the Serbian Military Medical Academy, told The Lancet: “There is a real risk of infectious diseases being spread and possibly at epidemic levels.”
Health officials in the affected countries have admitted that conditions are such that it is highly unlikely there will not be an outbreak of some disease. A toxic mix of chemicals and waste was left in many areas after industrial plants and companies were flooded. This debris has been mixed in with the rotting corpses of livestock that failed to escape the deluge as well as now-decaying food from homes and shops. Doctors have identified several specific diseases people could be at risk of, including enterocolitis, typhus, hepatitis, and West Nile disease. Cekanac told The Lancet: “The higher temperatures of recent days will make areas humid and create good conditions for mosquitoes.
“A spread of the West Nile virus is a real risk. We've had it before, but under these circumstances we could see an epidemic.”
The Veterinary Faculty in the Serbian capital Belgrade, which is monitoring the situation, said it had teams in areas worst affected by the floods controlling mosquitoes and larvae. But he admitted to The Lancet: “Such prevention measures are very good, but the flooded area is huge and it will be very hard to check the entire area.”