Global Connections


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The global connectons article for my Infectious Disease project.

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Global Connections

  1. 1. Tetanus outbreak in Sumatra shocks doctors By: Richard Spencer Aceh January 14, 2005 Scores of tsunami survivors are dying of tetanus, a rare but often deadly disease that has caught health officials off-guard. Deaths have been reported in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, at either end of the Indonesian disaster zone in Sumatra. They are almost certainly being replicated in the cut-off towns and villages along the coast in between, experts say. Tetanus, once better known as lockjaw, has been almost wiped out in the West through childhood immunisation and is now uncommon even in disaster areas. One doctor said this was the worst outbreak in the world for years. quot;I might have expected to see one case in my career,quot; said Charles Chan Johnson, from Singapore, working in Banda Aceh's general hospital, Zainal Abidin. quot;Now I have 20 patients in one ward.quot; Most had symptoms too far advanced to be treated. quot;I am afraid nearly all these patients will die,quot; Dr Johnson said. Immunisation is regarded as the most important means of prevention because once symptoms appear the mortality rate is high. But in Sumatra primary health care was limited before the tsunami. Medical workers said the disaster provided perfect conditions for tetanus, a form of blood poisoning. Many people were injured by debris and ended up lying in dirty water. But the number arriving at hospitals and field clinics with the classic rictus quot;smilequot; of lockjaw has taken them by surprise. There have been 40 confirmed cases and 20 deaths in Banda Aceh, and seven cases and five deaths in Meulaboh. - Daily Telegraph This article is about a large amount of tsunami survivors are dying of tetanus. Even though tetanus has been all but eliminated in the West, the Eastern third world countries do not have the medical resources nor money to vaccinate all of their people. The tsunami left many people perfectly set up to catch the disease. They were lying in dirty water after being cut by debris. I think that if the world helped out the third world countries better rather than going farther and farther into debt the people of Sumatra may have been able to avoid the 25 deaths they already had. This is the worst tetanus outbreak in the world for many years. All of this could be avoided if only government funding would help build up the medical systems in these countries. I feel that these deaths were all for naught. -Thomas