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June 23, 2005

"Tsunami Lung" Infections Plague Survivors

Bacterial pneumonia and sinus infections have afflicted a number of survivors of last December's tsunami that swept through Asia and Africa, says a Reuters report that summarizes a New England Journal of Medicine article and other news stories. Some have needed antibiotics, sinus rinses and/or respirator treatment to help them recover.

Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld recently wrote of his experiences aboard the USNS Mercy near Banda Aceh, Indonesia, as the ship treated survivors, including some suffering from "tsunami lung."
In one particularly dramatic case, Iqbal, an 11-year-old boy, had been found clinging to a piece of driftwood about a mile out in the ocean. His immediate family had perished. He suffered respiratory arrest and required a respirator because of “tsunami lung”—a severe bacterial infection caused by swallowing muddy water. A helicopter transported him to the Mercy. A week later, after intensive therapy, Iqbal was off the respirator and watching Spider-Man movies. In less than four weeks, he was able to leave the hospital ship.
(This Zap*Germs post gives more info on the Mercy mission.)


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