By Paul Goble
Cholera outbreaks in Ukrainian cities whose infrastructure has been destroyed by Russian forces has already attracted attention, but Natalya Vinograd, a Lviv epidemiologist warns that there are risks of tetanus and typhoid epidemics there as well for the same reason.
She also warns that there may be a spread of “exotic infections” that the Russian troops and especially those recruited from Buryatia or other distant locations may have carried with them when they invaded her country (life.nv.ua/socium/voyna-mozhet-vyzvat-epidemii-ne-tolko-holery-no-stolbnyaka-vshey-tifa-ekspert-novosti-ukrainy-50248868.html).
Cholera is a particular threat, Vinograd says, because in its early stages, the disease seldom sends people for medical treatment. When they finally go, it may be too late to save them; and as a result, the mortality rate from the disease is extremely high – 17 to 30 percent — far higher than it needs to be.
She says that cholera is extremely likely to spread from Mariupol where it was first seen to other Ukrainian cities whose water and sewage infrastructure has been heavily damaged or where foods have become contaminated. To combat this, doctors need to identify origins; but often the first people infected are now in Russian-controlled areas where nothing is being done.
According to Vinograd, there is also a great risk of other kinds of infections becoming epidemic in proportion because so many Ukrainians are now moving from place to place as a result of the fighting. They carry the bacteria with them and thus represent a threat to others even as they try to save themselves.