Following a nine-day study, an expert from the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the recent eruptions of Guatemala's Fuego ('Fire') Volcano will have short-, medium- and long-term health effects on its victims, the Ministry of Public Health said Thursday.
Fuego's eruption on June 3 left at least 112 people dead, thousands displaced and nearly 200 missing. An advisor to the Pan American Health Organization and the WHO, Peter Baxter took samples of volcanic ash and water from affected areas, such as San Miguel Los Lotes and Escuintla.
"According to Baxter, there are several effects and the impact that the eruption of a volcano can present to people, mainly in the respiratory system, skin and eyes, especially in older adults and children," the Health Ministry said.
"Also the contamination of food and water contaminated with the metals contained in the volcano ash can cause gastrointestinal diseases to severe complications in chronic patients," the statement continued.
Shortly after the eruption, a team of WHO technicians launched a needs assessment to provide clean water, healthcare and mental health services to the people affected.
Approximately 3,623 victims were left destitute as a result of the Fuego eruption and their communities remain at risk for new mudslides. Earlier this week, the country was hit by a 5.6 earthquake, but no damage was reported.