Infectious Diseases Expert's Advice to Tsunami Relief Workers - IAMC
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Infectious Diseases Expert’s Advice to Tsunami Relief Workers

Dec 30, 2004

Indian Muslim Council-USA, an advocacy group working towards protecting and promoting the pluralist and tolerant values of the Indian society, urges individuals to donate generously for the relief and rehabilitation efforts underway for the victims of tsunamis in southern Asia.

The casualty numbers are now estimated to be 116,000 and the World Health Organization (WHO) officials have warned that disease outbreaks in the disaster area could double the death toll. Dr. Habeeb Rahman, President of IMC-USA’s New Jersey chapter and an Infectious Diseases expert, has helped formulate disease prevention guidelines for relief workers in the afflicted area. These guidelines correlate to the notifications from the Center for Disease Control. Please check for more information.

Preventing Diarrheal Diseases:

– Drink only bottled (can sometimes be spurious) or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
– Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
Don’t eat chutney (raw paste of vegetables)

Preventing Hepatitis A:

– Follow above rules plus,
– If you are leaving for India or Sri Lanka within 2 weeks, must take Hepatitis A Immune globulin injection (gives immediate protection). If you plan to stay long, then you should ALSO get a Hepatitis A vaccine.
– If you are leaving for India or Sri Lanka after 4 weeks, then take a Hepatitis A Vaccine (generates immunity in about 4 weeks).

Preventing Salmonella:

– Follow above eating and drinking habits plus,
– Oral Ty21a vaccine consists of a total of four capsules, one taken every other day. OR ViCPS consists of one 0.5-mL (25-µg) dose administered as injection.

Preventing Cholera:

– Follow above eating and drinking habits. Vaccine for Cholera, which is NOT available in US, offers brief and incomplete immunity.
– More information on vaccines for Cholera can be obtained from the manufacturers:

Dukoral, Active Biotec AB
P.O. Box 724, SE-220 07, Lund, Sweden
Ph: 46-46192000; fax: 46-46192050
E-mail: ; website:

Mutacol, Berna, Switzerland Division
P.O. Box CH-3001, Bern, Switzerland
Ph: 41-319812211; fax: 41-319812066

Protect yourself from mosquito bites and Malaria:

– Wear long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, and hats.
– Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
– Mefloquine (Lariam) 250 mg one pill once a week. (Do not use this medicine if you have irregular heartbeats or psychiatric problems. OR
– Malarone 1 pill once daily (Do not use if you are pregnant) OR
– Doxycycline 100mg 1 pill once a day (Usage warning: make sure all the skin over your body is covered, otherwise Doxycycline can cause very bad sunburn. Do not use if you are pregnant).
– You can take any one of the above drugs throughout your stay in the affected country and up to 1 week after you arrive back in the US
– You could also prevent Dengue fever and Yellow fever, by avoiding Mosquito bites. There is a vaccine for Yellow fever but no vaccine for Dengue. There is no specific treatment.
– To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, do not go barefoot.

These are general guidelines. Please check with your personal physician for definitive medical advice.

Secretary General, IMC-USA
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