Beware of 3 diseases in the earthquake zone! The expert warned

Turkish Clinical Microbiology and Infection Society (KLİMİK) Board Member Prof. Dr. Alpay Azap made a presentation on infectious diseases that can be experienced after the earthquake at the National Lung Health Congress held in Antalya between 15-18 March by the Lung Health and Intensive Care Association (ASYOD).

Speaking to Demirören News Agency, Prof. Dr. Azap drew attention to the danger of tetanus. Drawing attention to the earthquake victims who migrated from the earthquake region to other cities, Prof. Dr. Azap noted that those who go to other provinces from the region should register with the family health centers in the places they go as soon as possible so that the childhood vaccinations are not disrupted. prof. Dr. Azap said that there has not been a major epidemic in the region yet. “As far as we have learned from our friends working in that region, there is a slight increase in the frequency of some infections. But we are not talking about an infectious disease that spreads quickly like in Covid. There are (cluster) increases in some diseases. For example, we know that there is an increase in cases of scabies, diarrhea. This also differs by region. Because each region has its own special situation. For example, in some cities, since the sewerage infrastructure is not damaged too much, there are no problems in access to use or drinking water. But we learn that there are still deficiencies in these issues in Antakya centre, Samandağı district, Maraş center and some districts. he said.


Noting that with the warming of the weather, problems such as flies and mosquitoes may cause serious problems in the region, Prof. Dr. Azap emphasized that very good measures should be taken regarding these issues, “With the warming of the weather, there may be an increase in the number of vectors such as flies and mosquitoes that can carry diseases. This is a factor that will facilitate infections. Therefore, serious precautions should be taken regarding them now,” he said. he said.


Noting that one of the worrying pictures after the earthquakes is tetanus, Prof. Dr. Alpay Azap said:

“The increase in tetanus cases is very expected after earthquakes. There are examples of this in the world. Because tetanus is a spore-forming bacterium that is found in dust and soil. There is a problem, even with a minor injury, if the wound contains an oxygen-free environment, then tetanus spores can turn into bacilli and produce tetanus toxin and cause tetanus disease in people. Frankly, we think there are many such people. In other words, there are citizens who have left the wreckage with their own efforts and stayed at the wreckage to save their relatives without being seen by any health institution, who still live in the region or have gone to other cities that have left the region. In this way, a case that we followed who survived the earthquake and later applied to a hospital in Aydın was detected in this way. But we learned that the patient’s condition is good and responds well to the treatments.

Pointing out that the incubation period of tetanus can reach about 90 days, Prof. Dr. Azap emphasized that this period may vary depending on the condition of the wound or the immune response of the person, “This period may vary depending on the severity of the injury and the immune system status of the person. It could be as low as two days or longer. The ideal is to get a tetanus vaccine as soon as possible after injury. But let’s not make any sense here, we do not say that everyone living in the earthquake zone should have a tetanus vaccine. We recommend vaccination to people who have a tetanus risk injury, have not undergone any health checks and have not had any tetanus vaccination in the last 10 years. said.


Expressing that family health centers (FHC) were also affected by the great destruction experienced in the earthquake, Prof. Dr. Azap emphasized that some disruption is expected in childhood vaccinations in the region. prof. Dr. Azap said:

“Vaccination services were carried out through primary health care services in Turkey and we have a very well functioning vaccination system. But unfortunately, the Family Health Centers in the buildings destroyed in the earthquake zone became unusable. The system, which required 24/7 temperature monitoring for vaccines, was also damaged.

In addition, health workers either lost their lives or lost their relatives, were victims of the earthquake. That’s why we expect some disruption in vaccinations. But there were many people who went to other cities, especially from the earthquake zone. These people must apply to the family physicians in the places they go, have their records taken there and have the necessary vaccinations done. Otherwise, our risk of seeing diseases such as measles, chickenpox and tetanus, which can be prevented by vaccination, will increase in the coming weeks. he said.

‘Both of them are diseases that can spread very rapidly’

Stating that the risk of rapid reoccurrence of these diseases increases when the vaccines in the routine vaccination scheme are not made, Prof. Dr. Azap, “The reason we focus specifically on measles and chickenpox is because they are so easily transmitted. Yes, mumps is also a respiratory disease transmitted by droplets, but close contact must be for a very long time for mumps to be transmitted. However, measles and chickenpox can spread in a very short time, with not very close contact. Measles and chickenpox can be fatal, especially in young children who are undernourished. Nutrition in that region is already troubled due to the earthquake. That’s why we’re so worried about these diseases.” he said.


prof. Dr. Finally, Alpay Azap said that the sustainability of the surveillance (follow-up) system in terms of infectious diseases is of vital importance for the control of diseases, and added that more frequent notifications by the Ministry of Health will make things easier for infection specialists working in the region. Torment, “For the follow-up of infectious diseases, the Ministry of Health has revived the surveillance system in 10 of the 10 provinces shortly after the earthquake. The Minister also shared the figures once. But then there was no sharing again. We do not know what the latest situation is at the moment. Therefore, more regularly We need information so that our colleagues working in the region can more easily control infectious diseases.” he said. (DHA)

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