Thursday, October 1, 2009


Contaminated Water, Mosquito-Borne Diseases a Health Hazard for Traveling Volunteers

BALTIMORE- 9/29/09- After Ketsana plowed through Philippines throughout the weekend many Filipinos experienced something they had never seen before: In Manila, streets were flooded to the highest levels ever recorded; and inside its houses, citizens dealt with water that rose up to 4 feet. Rivers and creeks, swollen after 24-hours rains that dumped more than a month's worth of average rainfall, flooded about 80 per cent of the city in which 15 million people live.

“It always saddens us to hear news like this,” said Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health, the nation’s leading provider of travel medical services and immunizations. “We were first respondents after the Katrina disaster and know first hand how devastating a [typhoon] can be. Our priority right now is to make sure that Typhoon Ketsana Volunteers leaving for The Philippines and Vietnam take adequate measures so that they do not succumb to illness,” she added. Passport Health keeps up-to date health alerts for all international travelers

On a recent interview with Voice of America, Stephen Anderson, the United Nations World Food Program's country director in Manila, compared the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ketsana to Hurricane Katrina." It was more rain in fact than Hurricane Katrina and you know up to 20 feet of water engulfed some parts of Manila, especially the low lying areas," he stated. The Philippines are not out of the woods yet as another major storm is expected to enter Philippine waters on Thursday and make landfall later in the week on the northern island of Luzon; the same way Ketsana made landfall.

So far the death toll has risen to 240 people and over 1.9 million people were affected and 375,000 abandoned their homes and taken refuge in evacuation center because of Typhoon Ketsana, which also destroyed or damage 3,000 houses.

“There is great need for volunteers,” continued Lessans. “Precautionary measures to consider when entering areas affected by Typhoon Ketsana include:
Up-to-date vaccinations:
Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertusis (TDaP)
Hepatitis A and B
Typhoid Fever
Japanese Encephalitis (depending on location)
Malaria Prophylaxes
Water Purification Devices
Wound Care Kits
Anti-Diarrhea Prophylaxes, Medications, and oral rehydration solutions

“Passport Health will make recommendations for vaccines, portable water purifiers, and food, water and mosquito-borne illnesses for each volunteer. In these situations conditions are less than sanitary and we want to make sure no one gets sick. Clean water is an issue right now,” she concluded.

Passport Health supplied, on short notice, doctors and nurses to postal and publishing facilities along the east coast after the Anthrax attack of 2001. Additionally the company prepared relief workers and relatives of victims of the Tsunami in Indonesia. After hurricane Katrina, Passport Health nurses were deployed to the Gulf Coast to vaccinate utility and relief workers. Passport Health nurses also supplied free flu shots to residents and Emergency Response Teams affected by the recent California wild fires.

Jorge Eduardo Castillo

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