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Emilia Romagna flood, Ausl: “No health risk”

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Emilia Romagna flood, Ausl: “No health risk”

There is no health alert at the moment” in Emilia Romagna after the flood. They specify it fromAusl Romagna to beraking latest news Salute, regarding the infectious and health risks that can arise in situations characterized by stagnant water, such as these days in flooded areas.

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The local media have spoken of a couple of cases of gastroenteritis that have occurred in the emergency room, but there are currently no signs of an increase in these infections, in association with the situation caused by the flood, explain the health company.

What have been put in place are “preventive actions”, points out the Ausl, confirming the recommendations contained in the handbook prepared by the company Department of Public Health: “They are common sense rules established by the WHO”, World Health Organization, “standards hygiene measures to be taken in situations of this type”.


There was” in Emilia Romagna after the flood “an overall underestimation of the health riskin the sense that a week ago I had already warned of the danger of a mixture of waste and sewage water, carcasses of dead animals and rainwater “. So Matteo Bassetti, director of infectious diseases at the San Martino hospital in Genoa, told beraking latest news Salute.

There is no longer a border between what is sewer water and the rest, so there is a contamination and the risk of infections. Honestly, from a medical point of view, I believe that the residents of some areas had to be evacuated, as happens with an earthquake. The health risk is now high, there have been the first reports of hospitalizations for gastroenteritis and there will be many more. You must not have contact with the water, even if you are wearing boots or gloves, it is contaminated. It is not an emergency but there is a risk of outbreaks,” stressed the expert.

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“What should be done? Not all infectious diseases are vaccine-preventable, It’s okay to get a booster for tetanus and also for hepatitis A, one can think of anti-typhoid, but – he warns – then there are a series of other infectious diseases that are transmitted by the fecal-oral route on which not much can be done: Escherichia Coli, Shigellosis. Or even those transmitted by animals such as leptospirosis or giardiasis. You have to be very careful “, warns the infectious disease specialist.

infectious disease specialists

“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”. Thus 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 put their hands in the mud. To facilitate prevention, new doses of 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”.

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“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 – so we can limit ourselves to alerting public hygiene structures to monitor any suspicious symptoms” .

Iss to flood victims: “Drink only safe water and beware of mosquitoes”

Drink only potable and safe water, throw away potentially contaminated food or drink, protect yourself with sturdy boots and footwear, use repellents and do not leave parts of the body exposed to mosquito bites, keep children away from stagnant water. These are some of the indications of the health authorities to follow in flooded areas. These are listed by the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) in a note by the Group of Experts for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases.

The document highlights how in areas affected by floods such as Emilia Romagna, the risk of certain infections due to the presence of stagnant water can increase. “The possible risks known from the scientific literature and previous experiences mainly concern gastrointestinal infections, legionellosis and arboviruses such as West Nile virus infection”, list the experts. In areas where the sewage systems are damaged, as also recalled by a risk assessment by the ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control), published on the occasion of the 2021 floods in central Europe, “the risk of indirect transmission increases or directed by various gastrointestinal pathogens, from E. coli to hepatitis A”.

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How to reduce the risks

How to reduce these risks? “The recommendation – the experts write in the note also published online on the ISS website – is to drink only safe potable water by carefully following the indications provided by the regional health authorities on the potability of tap water, and to eat food that has not been in contact with water or mud derived from the flood, or with surfaces that may have been in contact with them. If in doubt, throw away potentially contaminated food or drink”. Furthermore, the note reads, “contact with stagnant water should be avoided as much as possible, for example by wearing boots or sturdy footwear”. Particular attention should be given to children for whom contact with water can be seen as a game, the authors of the document point out. “There is always the indication to wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes and mouth with hands dirty with mud”.

The ISS explains that, even if “no particular situations of health risk have been reported at the moment”, some behaviors must be avoided. The document reviews all the various risks indicated by scientific data for situations similar to those of the areas affected by the bad weather of recent days and by the severe flood. As far as legionellosis is concerned, the experts point out, “some studies have shown that more abundant rainfall can be associated with a greater risk. When rainfall is aggravated by floods, the probability increases that Legionella will transfer from the natural environment (rivers and lakes) to domestic pipes. It is therefore important, in cases of pneumonia, to also carry out specific diagnostic tests” for this bacterium.

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