January 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Indonesia: COS - Thailand: Tsunami: Petaluma Argus-Courier: Thailand RPCV Dr. Katherine McNally heads to tsunami-stricken Indonesia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Indonesia: Peace Corps Indonesia: The Peace Corps in Indonesia: January 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Indonesia: COS - Thailand: Tsunami: Petaluma Argus-Courier: Thailand RPCV Dr. Katherine McNally heads to tsunami-stricken Indonesia

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Thailand RPCV Dr. Katherine McNally heads to tsunami-stricken Indonesia

Thailand RPCV Dr. Katherine McNally heads to tsunami-stricken Indonesia

Thailand RPCV Dr. Katherine McNally heads to tsunami-stricken Indonesia

Local doctor heads to tsunami-stricken Indonesia

January 19, 2005


A family practice doctor from Kaiser Petaluma was among a team of doctors that traveled to Banda Aceh, Indonesia on Sunday to participate in an international effort to stem the threat of a malaria epidemic in the tsunami-stricken region.

Dr. Katherine McNally, who has worked in Petaluma for the past year and a half, together with two other Kaiser infectious disease specialists, will spend the next month trying to head off the threat of mosquito-borne diseases that could kill thousands more people around the disaster zone.

"I had a burning desire to go after hearing about all the horrors happening," said McNally last Friday, two days before her departure for Indonesia, a destination the doctor says she chose because of the malarial threat and because it was hardest hit.

Once on the ground, McNally and traveling companions Dr. David Witt and Dr. Darvin Smith will be meeting up with the Mentor Initiative, a British-based public health group that combats malaria epidemics.

Though this will be her first time working in a disaster zone, McNally has a deep personal and professional connection to Southeast Asia. Before starting medical school, she spent two and a half years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand working on a malaria control project.

And, according to health experts, McNally's expertise in malaria prevention is deeply needed.

Last Thursday, Mentor Initiative Director Richard Allan warned that a malaria outbreak could claim an additional 100,000 lives around the Indian Ocean if authorities don't act quickly.

"The combination of the tsunami and the rains are creating the largest single set of (mosquito) breeding sites that Indonesia has ever seen in its history," Allan told the Associated Press.

The aid group director explained that the Dec. 26 tsunami left pools of salt water that have been diluted by recent rains, creating a brackish water that attracts mosquitoes.

An insecticide spraying operation in houses throughout Banda Aceh will be one of the core actions to reduce mosquito-borne diseases, said Allan.

Though thus far the World Health Organization has only documented seven cases of malaria in Aceh province, protecting herself from illness and disease will be among McNally's priorities during her month in Indonesia.

The doctor was also concerned that her work might be restricted because of security concerns, hindering her from reaching those most in need of help.

"I'm most concerned about safety," she said. "There's a lot of questions that won't be answered till we get there."

(Contact Emily Brady at ebrady@arguscourier.com)

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Petaluma Argus-Courier

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Indonesia; COS - Thailand; Tsunami



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