2 Nov 2009

Samoa struggling with superbugs in wake of tsunami

12:02 pm on 2 November 2009

Medical teams in Samoa are struggling to cope with superbugs a month after a tsunami devastated parts of the Pacific, killing at least 184 people.

An 8.0 magnitude quake triggered big waves in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga on 29 September, devastating villages and killing at least 140 in Samoa.

Teuila Percival, head of Pacific Health at the University of Auckland, has been working in Samoa and says tsunami survivors have become resistant to antibiotics, sparking uncontrollable infections.

Dr Percival told Nine to Noon these infections could develop into chronic diseases, leading to amputations and death if not treated.

She says laboratories in Samoa need help gearing up to deal with testing all sorts of organisms and ongoing support from an infectious disease expert from New Zealand to help them set up systems in hospitals.

Dr Percival says some survivors also have "tsunami lung" after they ingested contaminated water along with soil, debri and bugs at high pressure when the waves hit.