Xerém is one of those quaint Brazilian cities that time forget. It is a quiet mountainous town with a meandering river running through it. When one of Brazil’s frequent spring rains hit the city the first week of January, the residents knew that this was not going to be an ordinary storm, and it wasn’t. The Capivari River started to swell and overflow from the more than 8 inches of rain that battered the town for 24 hours. The flood devastated the city.
When the rain stopped, garbage filled the wet, muddy streets, and more than 255 people lost their homes. The city’s government reacted quickly, and so did the federal government. The city put up a shelter for the homeless, and the federal government sent its top medical professional, Dr. Sergio Cortes, and his team to assess the potential for a disease outbreak.
The city of Xerém sits about 30 miles north of Rio de Janeiro and areas around the city have always been breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. The flood exacerbated those areas and created new ones. Dr. Cortes and his team according to a twitter post brought 3,000 antibiotic pills, and some calamity kits with them as well as enough sodium hypochlorite to start a drinking water cleaning process. One of the first requests Dr.Cortes had when he arrived was for the city to request bottled water from donors.
The biggest threat that Cortes faced was an outbreak of the Zika virus as well as leptospirosis, according to an article published by Extra.Globo.com. The Cortes medical team on Linked In started an education program at the makeshift shelter, so the victims of the flood would recognize symptoms of the diseases that might develop from the pools of filthy water around the city.
Fortunately, President Dilma Rousseff decided to send the army to areas in the north of Brazil to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds, and he strongly suggested that Xerém should be high on the list of cities that would receive the mosquito eradication treatment. Between the garbage, pooling water, dirty living conditions and lack of clean water, Xerém was a prime candidate for an outbreak of one or more of the diseases that are creating a major health issue for the people of Northern Brazil.
Dr. Cortes is one of the top health professionals in the country. To read more about Dr. Cortes visit his LinkedIn page. Cortes often tweets as well.