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Emergency Health Surveillance After Severe Flooding in Louisiana, 1995

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2012

Cynthia L. Ogden*
Affiliation:
National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Lynn I. Gibbs-Scharf
Affiliation:
Office of Public Health, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, during this investigation
Melvin A. Kohn
Affiliation:
Office of Public Health, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, during this investigation
Josephine Malilay
Affiliation:
National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
*
Division of Health Examination Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6525 Belcrest Road, Room 900, Hyattsville, MD 20782

Abstract

Introduction:

In disaster situations, timely surveillance systems that provide illness, injury, and mortality information to public health officials and hospitals are essential for planning and evaluating interventions.

Objectives:

To describe flood surveillance methodology, the impact of the event on hospitals, and the number of daily patient visits due to selected illnesses and injuries before, during, and after severe flooding in southeastern Louisiana in May 1995.

Methods:

Survey of disaster-area hospitals regarding flood impact. Emergency department surveillance of injuries and illnesses for the week before, the two days during, and the week after the flood.

Results:

There occurred an increase in the number of persons who drowned or were injured that presented to the moderately affected hospitals during the storm, but there was no increase in visits for gastroenteritis to any group of hospitals. Services were disrupted in more than half of hospitals. The severely affected hospitals had the least variation in the average number of daily visits. None of the drownings were reported by those hospitals that reported severe service disruption.

Conclusions:

Data should be collected from all hospitals in or near disaster areas, even if they were not directly affected by the disaster. Public education about the danger of drowning during flash flooding must be improved. The Louisiana experience emphasizes the need for a disaster-preparedness plan for rapid surveillance of illnesses and injuries.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2001

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Footnotes

†Officers in the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during this investigation.

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