Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 March 2017
Animals, including arthropods, are one health threat that can be affected by disasters. This institution-based study aimed to assess trends in Hymenoptera stings following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
We reviewed the medical records of patients with hymenopteran stings who visited Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, located 23 km from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, from March 2005 to March 2016. Patient and sting characteristics of post-disaster patients were examined, and the annual incidence of hospital visits for hymenopteran stings was compared with the pre-disaster baseline, calculating an incidence rate ratio (IRR) for each year.
We identified 152 pre-disaster patients (2005-2011) and 222 post-disaster patients (2011-2016). In the post-disaster period, 160 males (72.1%) were identified, with a median age of 59 years (range: 2-89 years). A total of 45 patients (20.3%) were decontamination workers. Post-disaster increases were found in the IRR for hymenopteran stings, peaking first in 2011 (IRR: 2.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.9-4.2) and later in 2014 (IRR: 3.2; 95% CI: 2.4-4.3) and 2015 (IRR 3.3; 95% CI: 2.5-4.4).
Long-term increases were found in the IRR of hospital visits for hymenopteran stings in an institution affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Decontamination workers appear to have been particularly affected by this phenomenon. Better disaster field worker monitoring and education about potential environmental health hazards may help to identify and prevent worker exposure to insect stings and other vectors in these settings. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:545–551)