The threat after floods in Italy: Tetanus and hepatitis

Although almost two weeks have passed since the floods in northern Italy, the community of Conselice outside Ravenna is still under water.
The situation is so serious that the municipality fears that a health risk is hiding in the brown, smelly slush that still – in some places – reaches up to the knees.

The first thing you notice when you drive your car into Conselice is the stench. It wafts through the AC with a reminder that the disaster here is far from over.

Gasoline, garbage, wet newspapers and human excrement from the ruined sewers mix in a sickening and stagnant muck that has turned the small community into an involuntary Venice in tattered suit. Conselice residents compare the stench in their town, which now resembles a swamp, to the smell of a polluted industrial port.

– It just smells rotten. This water, it’s full of feces and bacteria, says Gazment Buzi as he walks around his house and looks at the downstairs that was destroyed in the floods almost two weeks ago.

– It’s hardly possible to breathe here, says Giacono Domenico, even his house still under almost half a meter of water.

“Soon everything will start to mold”

15 people have died and at most 36,000 were evacuated after the floods that hit the Emilia-Romagna region on 16 May.

In most of the affected cities, people have been able to return home to begin the cleanup. But not here in Concelice.

– Soon everything in this house will begin to mold, says Gazment Buzi.

Advise: Do not have skin contact with the water

Authorities believe it will be another couple of days before all the water is gone.

The municipality fears that the stinking mess risks developing into a serious health risk, especially for the city’s elderly. Therefore, a vaccination campaign against tetanus and hepatitis A has been launched, several blocks have been evacuated and people are asked not to have skin contact with the water.

But it’s hard – when it’s everywhere.

– We are going to get vaccinated today, says Giacono Domenico.

– It’s just as good. No one knows what diseases can hide in this sorrow.