Disease epidemiology and earthquake disaster. The example of Southern Italy after the 23 November 1980 earthquake


This paper describes aspects of the epidemiological situation following the November 1980 earthquake disaster in Campania and Basilicata, southern Italy. First, population displacements and the fluctuating state of homelessness after the catastrophe are described. Secondly, the level of medical provision prior to the disaster is assessed and damage caused by the earthquake to the medical care and sanitation infrastructures is outlined. Thirdly, the publicity given by news media to the threat of disease is examined and compared with the official government reaction, which took the form of emergency medical provision and intervention against the supposed threat of disease. The national epidemiological surveillance system, which was set up during the aftermath of the disaster, is outlined and some of its results, describing the post-impact epidemiological situation in the disaster zone, are examined. Despite the chaotic situation following the earthquake and the publicity given to the threat of disease outbreaks, there were no serious epidemics and the hospital system was able to cope with the aftermath. The government program of vaccinating survivors and relief volunteers can therefore be seen as an over-reaction to the prevailing situation, although continuing disease surveillance was probably a wise precaution.

Alexander D | 1982
In: Social science & medicine , ISSN 0277-9536 | 16 | 22 | 1959-1969
Placement code: 
Yzermans collectie