Countless people across the world have been affected by the tragedy in Southeast Asia, but the tragedy is not that far away from Tampa. Many facets of USF’s campus have joined the massive relief effort. Professors have contributed their expertise and knowledge regarding the tsunami.
Several campus organizations have donated to the aid fund, including Student Government, Volunteer USF and Students for India Association. SG will use the first week of the spring semester as an opportunity to raise funds for the victims of the tsunami.
“We made about 20 posters and distributed them around campus, mainly in the bookstore, Marshall Center and the cafeteria,” said student body President Bijal Chhadva.
Rebuilding the infrastructure of the countries affected by the tsunami could take years. The death toll through 11 countries has increased to more than 150,000. The number of inquiries regarding U.S. citizens missing dropped from more than 3,500 to 755, according to CNN.com. Thirty-five Americans are either confirmed dead or are still missing.
“This will mainly affect students who have families from that area,” Chhadva said. “A lot of destruction took place and we’re doing what we can to help.”
The United States has pledged more than $350 million in aid. The aid that is being received and all future aid will be used to provide food and medical supplies, as well as provide funds to rebuild the infrastructure of the Indian Ocean countries affected by the disaster.
One of the main concerns following the tsunami is the lack of clean water and an adequate sewer system. After the disaster, the sewer system was compromised, sending waste into an already-parched water supply. The lack of clean water could lead to many diseases, including dysentery.
“With the sewer systems being compromised and a lack of infrastructure prior to the tsunami, the water can be contaminated by fecal organisms,” said Jacqueline Cattani, professor of public health and director of the USF Center for Biological Defense. “If the dysentery is not treated, it can lead to severe dehydration. With a lack of clean water, children in this region hold the greatest risk. If dehydration is not treated, it can lead to death.”
Future problems are foreseen in this region due to the water that moved inland. According to Cattani, there may be scores of mosquitoes born amid the after-effects of the tsunami. Mosquitoes carry diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. Dengue is a viral infection that leads to dengue fever, according to WebMD. Malaria is an infectious disease that is also spread through mosquitoes. A parasite within the mosquito causes malaria.
Since the pressing problem in Southeast Asia is providing clean water and food, the mosquito issue hasn’t become prevalent.
“We won’t see malaria or dengue problems until about roughly six to eight weeks,” Cattani said.
“Dengue is predominant with urban environments,” said professor Boo Kwa, who was in Malaysia prior to the tsunami.
“With water setting in these areas there may be a larger breeding ground for mosquitoes.”
Kwa was in Malaysia in December but left before the tsunami.