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Typhoon Hagibis struck Japan on October 12, 2019. This study documents and characterizes deaths caused by Hagibis and helps identify strategies to reduce mortality in future disasters.
Japanese residents, who were killed by Typhoon Hagibis, as reported by Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, were considered for the study. Details were collected from mainstream Japanese media, and flooding data from hazard maps published by local municipalities.
Out of the 99 total fatalities, 65 (73.0%) were aged 65 years or above. Among those who drowned indoors (20), 18 (90.0%) lived in high-risk areas of flooding, and their bodies were found on the first floor of their residences. A total of 10 (55.6%) out of the 18 fatalities lived in homes with 2 or more floors, indicating that they could have moved upstairs to avoid the floodwater. However, 6 (33.3%) could not do so due to existing health issues.
Relatively elderly people, particularly those in areas at high risk of flooding, were most affected. Seeking higher ground is a standard safety measure in times of flooding, but this may not be possible for everyone depending on their health status, structure of their residence, and the depth of floodwaters.
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)
Although much attention is now being paid to the health risks associated with nuclear disasters, reliable information is lacking. We retrospectively evaluated the health effects of living in highly contaminated radioactive areas in Japan.
The health evaluation was conducted in Tamano district, Fukushima prefecture, in 2011 and 2012. The surface deposition density of cesium in Tamano was 600 to 1000 kBq/m2 shortly after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Clinical parameters included body mass index, blood pressure, and laboratory examinations for blood cell counts, glucose levels, and lipid profiles. A screening program for internal and external exposure was also implemented.
One hundred fifty-five residents participated in the health evaluation. Significant decreases in average body mass index and blood pressure were observed from 2011 to 2012. Annual internal exposure levels did not exceeded 1 mSv in any participants. The levels of external exposure ranged from 1.3 to 4.3 mSv/y measured in the first test period but decreased to 0.8 to 3.6 mSv/y in the second test period.
These findings suggest that inhabiting nuclear contaminated areas is not always associated with short-term health deterioration and that radiation exposure can be controlled within safety limitations. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:34–37)
To elucidate the impacts of nuclear plant accidents on neighboring medical centers, we investigated the operations of our hospital within the first 10 days of the Great East Japan Earthquake followed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.
Data were extracted from medical records and hospital administrative records covering 11 to 20 March 2011. Factual information on the disaster was obtained from public access media.
A total of 622 outpatients and 241 inpatients were treated. Outpatients included 43 injured, 6 with cardiopulmonary arrest, and 573 with chronic diseases. Among the 241 inpatients, 5 died, 137 were discharged, and the other 99 were transferred to other hospitals. No communication methods or medical or food supplies were available for 4 days after the earthquake. Hospital directors allowed employees to leave the hospital on day 4. All 39 temporary workers were evacuated immediately, and 71 of 239 full-time employees remained. These employees handled extra tasks besides patient care and patient transfer to other hospitals. Committed effective doses indicating the magnitude of health risks due to an intake of radioactive cesium into the human body were found to be minimal according to internal radiation exposure screening carried out from July to August 2011.
After the disaster, hospitals located within the evacuation zone of a 30-km radius of the nuclear power plant were isolated. Maintenance of the health care system in such an event becomes difficult. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;8:471-476)
The 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have had devastating effects on residents near the damaged nuclear power plant, but quantifying its effect on their health has been difficult.
Among the 564 residents of Iitate Village and Soma City who enrolled in this study, we evaluated the changes of clinical parameters in 155 participants who underwent annual health evaluations in the previous year and after the earthquake. Psychological distress was also measured by using patient health questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9).
Participants (median age, 64 years) showed significant post-disaster increases in body weight, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and triglyceride levels. PHQ-9 scores of 10 or greater were found in 12% of the subjects, indicating that a substantial number had major depression.
The findings in this study showed substantial deterioration in clinical parameters related to lifestyle diseases and the presence of general psychological distress among residents living near the damaged nuclear power plant after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. In addition to controlling the levels of radiation exposure, aggressive management of immediate physical and mental health crisis for residents may be necessary in future nuclear accidents. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1–7)
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