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Tsunami Hit Sri Lanka - A Perfect Influenza Storm

Recombinomics Commentary
January 10, 2005

>>In refugee camps like the one hidden away in a northeast farming village about 25 miles inland, the health situation is dire as cholera, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, measles and the flu run rampant among the weakened tsunami survivors.

A team of 10 local and foreign doctors spent an afternoon here Saturday, doing everything from treating fungal skin infections to giving lessons on basic hygiene.

"I saw at least 50 patients, one a minute," said Surganganee De Lanerolle, who led a team of medical personnel sponsored by the Sri Lankan Medical Association of North America. "There are lots of viral infections here, and they are traveling rapidly. One person gets it, and then everyone has it."<<

Sri Lanka appears to be setting up for a perfect influenza storm.  Prior to the tsunami there were reports of a fatal flu in the south.  Although chickens in the area were dying and at least one of the initial cases was diagnosed as influenza A, the official diagnosis was Influenza B, which was detected in three of the fatal cases. The fatal flu has been passed to family members, and the number of cases before the tsunami was growing with reports in
in Matara, Padanangala and Embilipitiya.

After the tsunami there were reports of a fatal flu in the northeast corner of Sri Lanka in
Mullaittivu.  Since the initial reports of fatal flu a number of relief camps were created. This camps were crowded with refugees with a variety of medical conditions, including respiratory disease and pneumonia.

As noted above, the conditions are ripe for the spread of viral infections.  Many of the camps were set up at schools and now the schools are re-opening and the refugees are dispersing.

The above scenario is a recipe for a perfect influenza storm.

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