An Iranian health official in the flood-stricken city of Ahwaz in Khuzestan Province on Sunday warned about an outbreak of cholera and leishmaniasis and called on the authorities to take immediate prevention measures.
Mehrdad Sharifi, Head of West Ahwaz Health Center, said the residents are threatened by an outbreak of various diseases such as cholera and leishmaniasis and the city is facing an environmental disaster caused by the sewage overflow.
Heavy rains a week ago caused flooding and overflow of sewage in several cities and towns in Khuzestan Province including Ahwaz, Abadan and Karun. Floodwater stood at 30 centimeters above the floor level in some houses.
The water that flooded people's houses and public places is mixed with urban, hospital and industrial sewage, Sharifi said and pointed out that the flies that carry the leishmaniasis parasite are more common in February and March. He called on the authorities to quickly start disinfecting the streets with milk of lime, a traditional method of disinfection.
At least 200,000 people were affected by the flooding in the west of Ahwaz, Sharifi said and added that 7 million cubic meters of water mixed with sewage is still flooding Kianshahr which if not drained quickly will be a breeding ground for cholera and leishmaniasis.
Sharifi also pointed out that the city water quality has dropped significantly so in some areas bottled water needs to be distributed. He also criticized the unsanitary conditions of food distribution to the flooded areas and said city workers have been working without protective clothing and proper equipment.