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Health Ministry warns of leptospirosis, other diseases in flooded areas

Greece’s Deputy Minister of Health Irini Agapidaki sounded the alarm about the health situation prevailing in the areas flooded by storm Daniel as cases of leptospirosis, gastroenteritis and lung infections are recorded almost daily, flood water remains stagnant and the carcasses of thousands of animals have not been fully collected yet since September 7.

Three cases of leptospirosis have been reportedly confirmed in the area. This is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals and is transmitted through urine of infected, mostly rodents, while new cases of gastroenteritis and lung infection are recorded daily. Two cases of salmonella were recorded last week.

Speaking to state broadcaster ERT, Agapidaki reiterated that citizens and residents of these areas should avoid contact with stagnant water and mud as much as possible, as “there is a risk of leptospirosis, which often appears, as doctors tell us, with mild symptoms.”

Regarding the water, she said that surveillance continues as usual.

“To date, more than a thousand samples have been taken in collaboration with the local water supply and sewage companies. We give instructions to citizens. You see that in the updates we do at regular intervals we provide information about where the water is suitable, where it is not suitable”.

“Bottled water is being distributed every day and one can see this very easily. Tons of bottled water have been distributed. The supply of the areas in which the water is unsuitable continues, and you can see this process every day in the coordination of the Region. Trucks arrive with bottled water, which is distributed to citizens. This has not stopped. It has been since day one. It’s just that in the first days there was a difficulty,” he noted.

In view of the new wave of bad weather that is expected to “hit” Thessaly in the next 24-48 hours, the Deputy Minister of Health said: “We have a situation in which, while the place in Thessaly is recovering with a thousand and two difficulties, a new bad weather is coming, which may to aggravate the already existing wounds and there we act on different levels”.

Irini Agapidaki pointed out that projects are already being carried out in order not to flood again areas of increased risk, as assessed by Civil Protection.

“There is an activity going on, which concerns the collection of the dead animals and this is important because with another bad weather this problem will get worse,” she pointed out.

She added at least more than 50% of the [thousands of ] dead animals have been collected, especially from the large units, “and now the effort is focused on the villages – in various places where there are scattered dead animals”.

At the same time, she added, “there are crews that collect household goods, because you only know if someone in the field can grasp the extent of the destruction.”

“In many places, only the walls are left of the houses. Everything that existed as household goods is redistributed with mud, often with dead animals. The volume in all these villages is huge and that’s why this effort takes many days”, she stressed.

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