The January flood in the small city of Xerém adds another disaster to the long list of disasters that have occurred in Brazil in the last 18 months. It’s bad enough that the country is immersed in the worst economic crisis in more than 100 years, but adding floods and other natural disasters to the list makes it sound like Brazil is in the middle of some karmic payback.
The city of Xerém is one of those laidback cities in the north of Brazil that is never mentioned unless there is a disaster knocking at its door. A torrential spring rain at the beginning of January provided the knock Xerém needed to be recognized. The Capivari River left it banks and swallowed the city in water, mud, debris and the potential for disease. The Brazilian government sent a team of medical professionals to the city immediately after the flood to help victims as well as educate them. The medical team leader, Dr. Sergio Cortes, is an expert in disease control. Brazil is one of the 24 countries that have a major Zika virus outbreak.
Dr. Cortes and his medical team are capable of identifying the symptoms of mosquito related diseases like the Zika virus, dengue and leptospirosis. The first thing the team did when they reached the victims of the flood was to dispense antibiotics to the people that were exposed to mosquitoes in the area. The next task was to treat the city’s water supply with sodium hypochlorite to make it drinkable again.
According to an article posted by Extra.Globo.com, the first batch of water samples collected in several shelters by the Cortes medical team were considered unsatisfactory. Cortes asked for bottled water donations, according to Exame. The team also needed extra calamity kits as well as food donations.
The Brazilian government plans to destroy the mosquito breeding grounds around Xerém and other cities in the North. The only way to control the spread of disease in Xerém is to educate the residents about the symptoms, get rid of the garbage, and the pools of water that cover the roads in the city, according to Dr. Cortes.