Hygienists warn of risk of disease as country cleans up flood affected areas

Prague city part of Zbraslav, photo: CTK

Water levels throughout the Czech Republic are falling and the country is now busy cleaning up the devastation that the catastrophic floods left behind. In the flood-hit areas, thousands are working day and night pumping water out of basements, removing mud and debris - that may even include dead animals - out of buildings and drying furniture. Despite all the effort, however, it is expected to take months before life will be back to normal and as people clear out their houses, hygienists warn of a high risk of infection. Earlier today, Radio Prague spoke to the head of the Central Bohemian Crisis Committee, Dr Libuse Polanska and asked her what her biggest concern was:

Prague city part of Zbraslav, photo: CTK
"The problems we are facing seem to change every hour but the biggest is the epidemiological situation. We have to keep it on the positive level that it currently is on by providing vaccines for the affected areas. We plan to start with the children, followed by firefighters and clean-up volunteers. What is most important is that, during the clean up, people wear gloves, clothing that covers the entire body and boots. Before eating they should always wash their hands and immediately attend to any injuries as we expect the area to be contaminated."

But that is not all. The country is running out of disinfectant, protective clothing such as gloves, and tools. Vaccines are also limited, leaving the country dependent on help from abroad. Although a significant number of evacuated people have been allowed back into their homes, some places have turned into ghost towns, still lacking electricity and water.

Czech town of decin, photo: CTK
"In places where the tap water is risky or the source of the water supply is questionable, such as wells, drinking water, either bottled or from water tanks is provided. As far as disinfectants are concerned, the crisis committee has managed to organise the supply of material directly from the producers and those in need of it can get it from the regional crisis centres. We are also trying to get mosquito repellents and are considering a blanket disinfection, depending on how the situation develops"

Many listeners will recall the terrible floods which hit Moravia in 1997. After those floods, the region became a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Experts fear that this could happen again after the latest floods.

"It cannot be ruled out because there are some areas that attract mosquitoes and the warm weather does not help either."