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During the last decade, Japan has experienced the largest burden of chemical terrorism-related events in the world, including the: (1) 1994 Matsumoto sarin attack; (2) 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack; (3) 1998 Wakayama arsenic incident; (4) 1998 Niigata sodium-azide incident; and (5) 1998 Nagano cyanide incident. Two other intentional cyanide releases in To kyo subway and railway station restrooms were thwarted in 1995. These events spurred Japan to improve the following components of its chemical disaster-response system: (1) scene demarcation; (2) emergency medical care; (3) mass decontamination; (4) personal protective equipment; (5) chemical detection; (6) information-sharing and coordination; and (7) education and training. Further advances occurred as result of potential chemical terrorist threats to the 2000 Kyushu-Okinawa G8 Summit, which Japan hosted. Today, Japan has an integrated system of chemical disaster response that involves local fire and police services, local emergency medical services (EMS), local hospitals, Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and the Japanese Poison Information Center.
The types of medical care required during a disaster are determined by variables such as the cycle and nature of the disaster. Following a flood, there exists the potential for transmission of water-borne diseases and for increased levels of endemic illnesses such as vector-borne diseases. Therefore, consideration of the situation of infectious diseases must be addressed when providing relief.
The Japan Disaster Relief ( JDR) Medical Team was sent to Mozambique where a flood disaster occurred during January to March 2000. The team operated in the Hokwe area of the State of Gaza, in the mid-south of Mozambique where damage was the greatest.
An epidemiological study was conducted. Information was collected from medical records by abstracting data at local medical facilities, interviewing in habitants and evacuees, and conducting analyses of water.
A total of 2,611 patients received medical care during the nine days. Infectious diseases were detected in 85% of all of patients, predominantly malaria, respiratory infectious diseases, and diarrhea. There was no outbreak of cholera or dysentery. Self-reports of the level of health decreased among the flood victims after the event. The incidence of malaria increased by four to five times over non-disaster periods, and the quality of drinking water deteriorated after the event.
Both the number of patients and the incidence of endemic infectious diseases, such as malaria and diarrhea, increased following the flood. Also, there was a heightening of risk factors for infectious diseases such as an increase in population, deterioration of physical strength due to the shortage of food and the temporary living conditions for safety purposes, and turbid degeneration of drinking water. These findings support the hypotheses that there exists the potential for the increased transmission of water borne diseases and that there occurs increased levels of endemic illnesses during the post-flood period.
Change must begin with education. Theme 8 explored issues that need attention in Disaster Medicine education.
Details of the methods used are provided in the introductory paper. The chairs moderated all presentations and produced a summary that was presented to an assembly of all of the delegates. The chairs then presided over a workshop that resulted in the generation of a set of action plans that then were reported to the collective group of all delegates.
Main points developed during the presentations and discussion included: (1) formal education, (2) standardized definitions, (3) integration (4) evaluation of programs and interventions, (5) international cooperation, (6) identifying the psychosocial consequences of disaster, (7) meaningful research, and (8) hazard, impact, risk and vulnerability analysis.
Three main components of the action plans were identified as evaluation, research, and education. The action plans recommended that: (1) education on disasters should be formalized, (2) evaluation of education and interventions must be improved, and (3) meaningful research should be promulgated and published for use at multiple levels and that applied research techniques be the subject of future conferences.
The one unanimous conclusion was that we need more and better education on the disaster phenomenon, both in its impacts and in our response to them. Such education must be increasingly evidence-based.
To evaluate the aseptic efficacy of prefilled syringes compared with ampules when used in a polluted environment similar to that at a disaster site.
The researchers tested epinephrine, 0.1%, atropine sulfate, 0.05%, and lidocaine hydrochloride solutions, 2% (Group A) as well as lidocaine hydrochloride, 10%, sodium bicarbonate, 8.4%, and glucose solutions, 50% (Group B), that frequently are used for intravenous injection and intravenous infusion respectively in Disaster Medicine.
Each of these solutions in 10 prefilled syringes (PFSs) and 10 ampules was placed in a box of contaminated soil along with needles and empty syringes for ampules. In the box, each was taken out of its package, all syringes were connected with a needle, and empty syringes were filled with a solution. After this procedure, all syringes were taken out of the box to check their contents for bacterial contamination.
No bacterium was observed in any of the 10 Prefilled syringes samples of Group A and B solutions. In contrast, out of 10 ampule samples, six of the 10 samples containing epinephrine, nine of the 10 containing atropine sulfate, all 10 samples containing lidocaine hydrochloride, 2%, and all of the ampule samples containing Group B solutions tested positive for bacteria. A statistically significant difference was observed between the PFS and ampule samples in all six solutions.
Results indicate that, in environments with airborne contaminants, the use of prefilled syringes may be useful for preventing bacterial contamination of the medicine inside.