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Evaluation of Active Mortality Surveillance System Data for Monitoring Hurricane-Related Deaths—Texas, 2008

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 July 2012

Ekta Choudhary
Affiliation:
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia USA
David F. Zane
Affiliation:
Community Preparedness Section, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas USA
Crystal Beasley
Affiliation:
Clinical Management, Pharmaceutical Product Development, Austin, Texas USA (formerly affiliated with the Environmental Epidemiology and Disease Registries Section, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas USA)
Russell Jones
Affiliation:
Community Preparedness Section, Texas Department of State Health Services, Health Service Region 7, Temple, Texas USA
Araceli Rey
Affiliation:
Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Career Epidemiology Field Officer assigned to Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas USA
Rebecca S. Noe
Affiliation:
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia USA
Colleen Martin
Affiliation:
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia USA
Amy F. Wolkin
Affiliation:
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia USA
Tesfaye M. Bayleyegn
Affiliation:
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Introduction

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) implemented an active mortality surveillance system to enumerate and characterize hurricane-related deaths during Hurricane Ike in 2008. This surveillance system used established guidelines and case definitions to categorize deaths as directly, indirectly, and possibly related to Hurricane Ike.

Objective

The objective of this study was to evaluate Texas DSHS' active mortality surveillance system using US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) surveillance system evaluation guidelines.

Methods

Using CDC's Updated Guidelines for Surveillance System Evaluation, the active mortality surveillance system of the Texas DSHS was evaluated. Data from the active mortality surveillance system were compared with Texas vital statistics data for the same time period to estimate the completeness of reported disaster-related deaths.

Results

From September 8 through October 13, 2008, medical examiners (MEs) and Justices of the Peace (JPs) in 44 affected counties reported deaths daily by using a one-page, standardized mortality form. The active mortality surveillance system identified 74 hurricane-related deaths, whereas a review of vital statistics data revealed only four deaths that were hurricane-related. The average time of reporting a death by active mortality surveillance and vital statistics was 14 days and 16 days, respectively.

Conclusions

Texas's active mortality surveillance system successfully identified hurricane-related deaths. Evaluation of the active mortality surveillance system suggested that it is necessary to collect detailed and representative mortality data during a hurricane because vital statistics do not capture sufficient information to identify whether deaths are hurricane-related. The results from this evaluation will help improve active mortality surveillance during hurricanes which, in turn, will enhance preparedness and response plans and identify public health interventions to reduce future hurricane-related mortality rates.

Choudhary E, Zane DF, Beasley C, Jones R, Rey A, Noe RS, Martin C, Wolkin AF, Bayleyegn TM. Evaluation of active mortality surveillance system data for monitoring hurricane-related deaths, Texas, 2008. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(4):1-6.

Type
Special Report
Copyright
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2012

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