Dead Bodies Pose Little Disease Risk
In an earlier post, I let my own understanding of things color my reading of Daniel Aronstein‘s post on why mass graves for the victims of the Asian tsunami disaster were unnecessary. His point is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom (and my own understanding), it is not necessary to bury bodies quickly because the threat of disease is wildly exaggerated. Via e-mail, he points me to a NYT story on this point:
Even as local health officials out in the field were racing to create mass graves or pyres to deal with the rising tide of bodies, saying the bodies posed immediate health risks, officials of the World Health Organization emphasized that the biggest risk of an outbreak was posed by survivors. The agency’s officials said Tuesday that because there was little danger of epidemics from unburied bodies, immediate mass burials and cremations were not necessary. Instead, they said, family members and friends should be given time, where possible, to identify the bodies first.
You learn something new every day.