Article

Development and Application of Syndromic Surveillance for Severe Weather Events Following Hurricane Sandy

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Objective: Following Hurricane Superstorm Sandy, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) developed indicators to enhance syndromic surveillance for extreme weather events in EpiCenter, an online system that collects and analyzes real-time chief complaint emergency department (ED) data and classifies each visit by indicator or syndrome. Methods: These severe weather indicators were finalized by using 2 steps: (1) key word inclusion by review of chief complaints from cases where diagnostic codes met selection criteria and (2) key word exclusion by evaluating cases with key words of interest that lacked selected diagnostic codes. Results: Graphs compared 1-month, 3-month, and 1-year periods of 8 Hurricane Sandy-related severe weather event indicators against the same period in the following year. Spikes in overall ED visits were observed immediately after the hurricane for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, the 3 disrupted outpatient medical care indicators, asthma, and methadone-related substance use. Zip code level scan statistics indicated clusters of CO poisoning and increased medicine refill needs during the 2 weeks after Hurricane Sandy. CO poisoning clusters were identified in areas with power outages of 4 days or longer. Conclusions: This endeavor gave the NJDOH a clearer picture of the effects of Hurricane Sandy and yielded valuable state preparation information to monitor the effects of future severe weather events. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;page 1 of 9).

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... The complexity of indicator recognition in a (free) text-based system is much greater than in a coded system. Text-based chief complaint EDSyS systems regularly provided case definitions [97][98][99][100][101], keywords used (including negations) [99,[102][103][104], or simply described the use of an algorithm (either bespoke [54], or 'CoCo' [67,76]). Although free text chief complaint data was the primary source of information for the identification of a syndromic indicator, diagnosis data was collected where available and also used to supplement indicator development [90,104]. ...
... Text-based chief complaint EDSyS systems regularly provided case definitions [97][98][99][100][101], keywords used (including negations) [99,[102][103][104], or simply described the use of an algorithm (either bespoke [54], or 'CoCo' [67,76]). Although free text chief complaint data was the primary source of information for the identification of a syndromic indicator, diagnosis data was collected where available and also used to supplement indicator development [90,104]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Syndromic surveillance provides public health intelligence to aid in early warning and monitoring of public health impacts (e.g. seasonal influenza), or reassurance when an impact has not occurred. Using information collected during routine patient care, syndromic surveillance can be based on signs/symptoms/preliminary diagnoses. This approach makes syndromic surveillance much timelier than surveillance requiring laboratory confirmed diagnoses. The provision of healthcare services and patient access to them varies globally. However, emergency departments (EDs) exist worldwide, providing unscheduled urgent care to people in acute need. This provision of care makes ED syndromic surveillance (EDSyS) a potentially valuable tool for public health surveillance internationally. The objective of this study was to identify and describe the key characteristics of EDSyS systems that have been established and used globally. Methods We systematically reviewed studies published in peer review journals and presented at International Society of Infectious Disease Surveillance conferences (up to and including 2017) to identify EDSyS systems which have been created and used for public health purposes. Search criteria developed to identify “emergency department” and “syndromic surveillance” were applied to NICE healthcare, Global Health and Scopus databases. Results In total, 559 studies were identified as eligible for inclusion in the review, comprising 136 journal articles and 423 conference abstracts/papers. From these studies we identified 115 EDSyS systems in 15 different countries/territories across North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. Systems ranged from local surveillance based on a single ED, to comprehensive national systems. National EDSyS systems were identified in 8 countries/territories: 2 reported inclusion of ≥85% of ED visits nationally (France and Taiwan). Conclusions EDSyS provides a valuable tool for the identification and monitoring of trends in severe illness. Technological advances, particularly in the emergency care patient record, have enabled the evolution of EDSyS over time. EDSyS reporting has become closer to ‘real-time’, with automated, secure electronic extraction and analysis possible on a daily, or more frequent basis. The dissemination of methods employed and evidence of successful application to public health practice should be encouraged to support learning from best practice, enabling future improvement, harmonisation and collaboration between systems in future. Prospero number CRD42017069150.
... 11 In the aftermath of natural disasters, increases in gastrointestinal illness, mold-related health effects, and CO poisonings due to improper generator use are expected. 3,[15][16][17] Portable generators are emergency equipment that provide a secondary source of power. During a power outage, residents may use generators to cook and refrigerate food to avoid spoilage and prevent gastrointestinal illness, operate heating and cooling systems to prevent extreme temperature-associated health outcomes, and operate required medical equipment. ...
... 18 After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, more than 2 million homes in New Jersey were left without power for more than 3 days and CO poisoning clusters were identified in areas with power outages of 4 days or longer. 3 Generators are the number one cause of non-fire-related CO deaths due to engine-driven tools, not including cars. 19 Deaths from CO poisoning due to improper generator use continue to be a tragic public health reminder of the need for public education regarding proper generator use and universal CO detector installation. ...
Article
Context: Environmental exposure to groundwater contamination from agricultural runoff, chemical pollution, or geology and indoor air hazards from misuse of consumer products or naturally occurring radon contributes to adverse health outcomes. Individuals can reduce exposure to environmental hazards by practicing risk-reduction behaviors. Objective: To characterize the demographic and behavioral characteristics of the population practicing environmental risk-reduction behaviors in order to identify gaps in current prevention outreach efforts. Design: The New Jersey Behavioral Risk Factor Survey captures data on self-reported environmental risk-reduction behaviors and health-promoting behaviors (cancer screenings, vaccinations, smoking). To account for complex survey data, weighted analyses were performed in SAS v9.4. Setting: New Jersey, 2014-2015. Participants: The New Jersey Behavioral Risk Factor Survey is an ongoing telephone health survey of NJ residents. About 1000 NJ residents are selected randomly each month to derive statewide representative prevalence estimates. Main outcome measures: Self-reported private well testing, radon screening, and carbon monoxide (CO) detector ownership. Results: Statewide prevalence of the practice of environmental risk-reduction practices includes 56.6% for private well testing, 44.3% for radon screening, and 86.1% for CO detector ownership. A larger percentage of individuals who are white or Asian, college-educated, earn more than $50 000, and own their homes reported CO detector ownership and radon screening. Age was the only demographic factor associated with private well testing. Screening for radon and CO detector ownership was positively associated with receiving an influenza shot, colonoscopy, aerobic exercise, and positive self-reported health and not smoking. Conclusions: There is a need to improve rates of environmental risk-reduction behaviors and reduce disparities in the practice of these behaviors through efforts to increase awareness. Public health officials should target outreach to specific populations that do not practice risk-reduction behaviors.
... However, syndromic surveillance methods have evolved to evaluate other events, such as chemical exposures, heat-related illnesses, and occupational injuries. [14][15][16][17] We used chief-complaint text from ED visit records collected in New Jersey to assess the occurrence of treerelated injuries over time, with a particular focus on changes before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy. ...
... Classifiers are keywords that specify certain events or outcomes and can be searched for in the chief-complaint field. 16 To finalize the classifiers, New Jersey Department of Health staff members with expertise in injury, occupational health, and surveillance proposed keywords and phrases specific to tree-related injuries (eg, saw, branch, wood chip, woodchip, tree) by reviewing a year of data of ED injury chief complaints. We consulted other resources (eg, tree-care experts) as needed to clarify inclusions and exclusions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: Extreme weather events require extensive tree removal and disposal, tasks associated with severe injury risks among workers and residents. To help understand the risks of such activities, we evaluated the impact of a large and destructive storm (Hurricane Sandy in 2012) on the incidence of tree-related injuries. Methods: We searched chief-complaint text fields for patients aged 18-65 from 2011-2014 emergency department visit records submitted by New Jersey hospitals through the state-based syndromic surveillance system. Tree-related keywords (eg, saw, branch, wood chip, woodchip, tree) identified possible injuries that we then reviewed to exclude unrelated cases and classify mechanisms of tree-related injury. We used Poisson regression analysis to evaluate changes in the rates of probable tree-related injuries, adjusting for total emergency department visits and seasonal variation. Results: We identified 698 probable tree-related injuries from 2011-2014 among patients aged 18-65, including 104 (14.9%) falls, 241 (34.5%) machine-related injuries, 311 (44.6%) struck-by injuries, and 42 (6.0%) other tree-related injuries. Tree-related injuries increased significantly in the quarter immediately after Hurricane Sandy (November 2012-January 2013) compared with the same quarter the year before (rate ratio [RR] = 1.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13-2.47) and the year after (RR = 2.47; 95% CI, 1.62-3.78) Hurricane Sandy, especially for struck-by injuries compared with the year before (RR = 2.74; 95% CI, 1.47-5.12) and the year after (RR = 4.17; 95% CI, 2.09-8.32) Hurricane Sandy. More than one-third of the injuries (33.4%) involved chainsaws. Conclusions: A major hurricane was associated with an increase in tree-related injuries in emergency departments, especially for mechanisms consistent with handling downed and damaged trees. Further research should confirm these findings and evaluate opportunities for preventing tree-related injuries.
... Other efforts have focused on targeted surveillance for specific diseases toward development of early warning systems (see Enforce Laws and Regulations, below), for example dengue fever in the European Union [42]. At the local level, the New Jersey Department of Health developed the first use of syndromic surveillance software to monitor severe weather-related outcomes such as carbon monoxide poisoning, anxiety and adjustment disorders, and disrupted outpatient medical care in the wake of Hurricane Sandy [43]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Policy action in the coming decade will be crucial to achieving globally agreed upon goals to decarbonize the economy and build resilience to a warmer, more extreme climate. Public health has an essential role in climate planning and action: “Co-benefits” to health help underpin greenhouse gas reduction strategies, while safeguarding health—particularly of the most vulnerable—is a frontline local adaptation goal. Using the structure of the core functions and essential services (CFES), we reviewed the literature documenting the evolution of public health’s role in climate change action since the 2009 launch of the US CDC Climate and Health Program. We found that the public health response to climate change has been promising in the area of assessment (monitoring climate hazards, diagnosing health status, assessing vulnerability); mixed in the area of policy development (mobilizing partnerships, mitigation and adaptation activities); and relatively weak in assurance (communication, workforce development and evaluation). We suggest that the CFES model remains important, but is not aligned with three concepts—governance, implementation and adjustment—that have taken on increasing importance. Adding these concepts to the model can help ensure that public health fulfills its potential as a proactive partner fully integrated into climate policy planning and action in the coming decade.
... Several previous studies have described the utility of ED syndromic surveillance data for bioterrorism-related early aberration detection, 10 for routine surveillance of infectious 2,11-13 and noninfectious [14][15][16][17] diseases, and for surveillance during emergencies. [18][19][20][21] As these studies found, ED syndromic surveillance data are a valuable resource for understanding a wide range of diseases, conditions, and patient needs. The challenge is to incorporate ED syndromic surveillance into regular protocols and governmental decision-making processes (eg, heat-related illness surveillance during heat waves). ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: The use of syndromic surveillance has expanded from its initial purpose of bioterrorism detection. We present 6 use cases from New York City that demonstrate the value of syndromic surveillance for public health response and decision making across a broad range of health outcomes: synthetic cannabinoid drug use, heat-related illness, suspected meningococcal disease, medical needs after severe weather, asthma exacerbation after a building collapse, and Ebola-like illness in travelers returning from West Africa. Materials and methods: The New York City syndromic surveillance system receives data on patient visits from all emergency departments (EDs) in the city. The data are used to assign syndrome categories based on the chief complaint and discharge diagnosis, and analytic methods are used to monitor geographic and temporal trends and detect clusters. Results: For all 6 use cases, syndromic surveillance using ED data provided actionable information. Syndromic surveillance helped detect a rise in synthetic cannabinoid-related ED visits, prompting a public health investigation and action. Surveillance of heat-related illness indicated increasing health effects of severe weather and led to more urgent public health messaging. Surveillance of meningitis-related ED visits helped identify unreported cases of culture-negative meningococcal disease. Syndromic surveillance also proved useful for assessing a surge of methadone-related ED visits after Superstorm Sandy, provided reassurance of no localized increases in asthma after a building collapse, and augmented traditional disease reporting during the West African Ebola outbreak. Practice implications: Sharing syndromic surveillance use cases can foster new ideas and build capacity for public health preparedness and response.
Article
Objective Previous research suggests that people with asthma may experience a worsening of symptoms following hurricanes due to changes in environmental exposures, discontinuity in chronic disease management, and stress. The objective of this study was to estimate changes in asthma-related emergency department (ED) visits in North Carolina following Hurricane Irene, which made landfall in August 2011. Methods Changes in asthma-related ED visits in September to December of 2010 and 2011 were examined using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Emergency Department and Inpatient Databases. A Poisson generalized linear model was used to estimate the association between Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declarations following Hurricane Irene and county-level asthma-related ED visits controlling for month, year, and county. Results Following Hurricane Irene, disaster declarations were made for 38 of 100 counties in North Carolina. In September 2010, the rate of asthma-related ED visits for North Carolina was 6 per 10,000 person-months. In September 2011, rates of asthma-related ED visits were similar in counties with and without disaster declarations (7 and 5 per 10,000 person-months, respectively). When adjusting for covariates, there was little or no difference in the rate of asthma ED visits before and after the hurricane between counties with and without a disaster declaration (rate ratio {RR} [95% confidence interval {CI}] = 1.02[0.97, 1.08]). Conclusions Although risk factors for asthma exacerbations increase following hurricanes, these results found little evidence of an increase in asthma-related ED visits in North Carolina following Hurricane Irene.
Article
The unexpected nature of disasters leaves little time or resources for organized health surveillance of the affected population, and even less for those who are unaffected. An ideal epidemiologic study would monitor both groups equally well, but would typically be decided against as infeasible or costly. Exposure and health outcome data at the level of the individual can be difficult to obtain. Despite these challenges, the health effects of a disaster can be approximated. Approaches include 1) the use of publicly available exposure data in geographic detail, 2) health outcomes data-collected before, during, and after the event, and 3) statistical modeling designed to compare the observed frequency of health outcomes with the counterfactual frequency hidden by the disaster itself. We applied these strategies to Hurricane Sandy, which struck the northeastern United States in October 2012. Hospital admissions data from the state of New York with information on primary payer as well as patient demographic characteristics were analyzed. To illustrate the method, we present multivariate logistic regression results for the first 2 months after the hurricane. Inferential implications of admissions data on nearly the entire target population in the wake of a disaster are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Real-time emergency department (ED) data are currently received from 78 of 80 New Jersey acute care and satellite EDs by Health Monitoring Systems Inc. (HMS) EpiCenter system. After the 2012 Superstorm Sandy, NJDOH initiated a plan to develop severe weather surveillance using ED data to track both health and mental health outcomes during adverse weather conditions to alert the public about emerging health hazards. Data from 68 out of a total of 80 emergency departments with dates from October 28, 2012 to November 17, 2012 were used in this analysis. Validation results for classifications were reviewed and issues are addressed.
Research
Full-text available
Evacuation Decision, Housing Issues, and Sense of Community
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this systematic literature review was to identify the extent and implications of medication loss and the burden of prescription refill on medical relief teams following extreme weather events and other natural hazards. The search strategy followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). Key health journal databases (Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Maternity and Infant Care, and Health Management Information Consortium (HMIC)) were searched via the OvidSP search engine. Search terms were identified by consulting MeSH terms. The inclusion criteria comprised articles published from January 2003 to August 2013, written in English and containing an abstract. The exclusion criteria included abstracts for conferences or dissertations, book chapters and articles written in a language other than English. A total of 70 articles which fulfilled the inclusion criteria were included in this systematic review. All relevant information was collated regarding medication loss, prescription loss and refills, and medical aids loss which indicated a significant burden on the medical relief teams. Data also showed the difficulty in filling prescriptions due to lack of information from the evacuees. People with chronic conditions are most at risk when their medication is not available. This systematic review also showed that medical aids such as eye glasses, hearing aids as well as dental treatment are a high necessity among evacuees. This systematic review revealed that a considerable number of patients lose their medication during evacuation, many lose essential medical aids such as insulin pens and many do not bring prescriptions with them when evacuated.. Since medication loss is partly a responsibility of evacuees, understanding the impact of medication loss may lead to raising awareness and better preparations among the patients and health care professionals. People who are not prepared could have worse outcomes and many risk dying when their medication is not available.
Article
Full-text available
Severe flooding occurred in the midwestern United States in 2001. Since November 2000, coincidentally, data on gastrointestinal symptoms had been collected for a drinking water intervention study in a community along the Mississippi River that was affected by the flood. After the flood had subsided, the authors asked these subjects (n = 1,110) about their contact with floodwater. The objectives of this investigation were to determine whether rates of gastrointestinal illness were elevated during the flood and whether contact with floodwater was associated with increased risk of gastrointestinal illness. An increase in the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms during the flood was observed (incidence rate ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval: 1.06, 1.58), and this effect was pronounced among persons with potential sensitivity to infectious gastrointestinal illness. Tap water consumption was not related to gastrointestinal symptoms before, during, or after the flood. An association between gastrointestinal symptoms and contact with floodwater was also observed, and this effect was pronounced in children. This appears to be the first report of an increase in endemic gastrointestinal symptoms in a longitudinal cohort prospectively observed during a flood. These findings suggest that severe climatic events can result in an increase in the endemic incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the United States. communicable diseases; diarrhea; gastrointestinal tract; natural disasters; water
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Floods and other severe weather events are anticipated to increase as a result of global climate change. Floods can lead to outbreaks of gastroenteritis and other infectious diseases due to disruption of sewage and water infrastructure and impacts on sanitation and hygiene. Floods have also been indirectly associated with outbreaks through population displacement and crowding. Methods We conducted a case-crossover study to investigate the association between flooding and emergency room visits for gastrointestinal illness (ER-GI) in Massachusetts for the years 2003 through 2007. We obtained ER-GI visits from the State of Massachusetts and records of floods from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Storm Events Database. ER-GI visits were considered exposed if a flood occurred in the town of residence within three hazard periods of the visit: 0–4 days; 5–9 days; and 10–14 days. A time-stratified bi-directional design was used for control selection, matching on day of the week with two weeks lead or lag time from the ER-GI visit. Fixed effect logistic regression models were used to estimate the risk of ER-GI visits following the flood. Results and Conclusions A total of 270,457 ER-GI visits and 129 floods occurred in Massachusetts over the study period. Across all counties, flooding was associated with an increased risk for ER-GI in the 0–4 day period after flooding (Odds Ratio: 1.08; 95% Confidence Interval: 1.03–1.12); but not the 5–9 days (Odds Ratio: 0.995; 95% Confidence Interval: 0.955–1.04) or the 10–14 days after (Odds Ratio: 0.966, 95% Confidence Interval: 0.927–1.01). Similar results were observed for different definitions of ER-GI. The effect differed across counties, suggesting local differences in the risk and impact of flooding. Statewide, across the study period, an estimated 7% of ER-GI visits in the 0–4 days after a flood event were attributable to flooding.
Article
Full-text available
The science of surveillance is rapidly evolving due to changes in public health information and preparedness as national security issues, new information technologies and health reform. As the Emergency Department has become a much more utilized venue for acute care, it has also become a more attractive data source for disease surveillance. In recent years, influenza surveillance from the Emergency Department has increased in scope and breadth and has resulted in innovative and increasingly accepted methods of surveillance for influenza and influenza-like-illness (ILI). We undertook a systematic review of published Emergency Department-based influenza and ILI syndromic surveillance systems. A PubMed search using the keywords "syndromic", "surveillance", "influenza" and "emergency" was performed. Manuscripts were included in the analysis if they described (1) data from an Emergency Department (2) surveillance of influenza or ILI and (3) syndromic or clinical data. Meeting abstracts were excluded. The references of included manuscripts were examined for additional studies. A total of 38 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria, describing 24 discrete syndromic surveillance systems. Emergency Department-based influenza syndromic surveillance has been described worldwide. A wide variety of clinical data was used for surveillance, including chief complaint/presentation, preliminary or discharge diagnosis, free text analysis of the entire medical record, Google flu trends, calls to teletriage and help lines, ambulance dispatch calls, case reports of H1N1 in the media, markers of ED crowding, admission and Left Without Being Seen rates. Syndromes used to capture influenza rates were nearly always related to ILI (i.e. fever +/- a respiratory or constitutional complaint), however, other syndromes used for surveillance included fever alone, "respiratory complaint" and seizure. Two very large surveillance networks, the North American DiSTRIBuTE network and the European Triple S system have collected large-scale Emergency Department-based influenza and ILI syndromic surveillance data. Syndromic surveillance for influenza and ILI from the Emergency Department is becoming more prevalent as a measure of yearly influenza outbreaks.
Article
Full-text available
SUMMARY Weekly data from 7 years (2004-2010) of primary-care counts of acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) and local weather readings were used to adjust a multivariate time-series vector error correction model with covariates (VECMX). Weather variables were included through a partial least squares index that consisted of weekly minimum temperature (coefficient = - 0·26), weekly median of relative humidity (coefficient = 0·22) and weekly accumulated rainfall (coefficient = 0·5). The VECMX long-term test reported significance for trend (0·01, P = 0·00) and weather index (1·69, P = 0·00). Short-term relationship was influenced by seasonality. The model accounted for 76% of the variability in the series (adj. R 2 = 0·76), and the co-integration diagnostics confirmed its appropriateness. The procedure is easily reproducible by researchers in all climates, can be used to identify relevant weather fluctuations affecting the incidence of ARIs, and could help clarify the influence of contact rates on the spread of these diseases.
Article
Full-text available
Disasters test civil administrations' and health services' capacity to act in a flexible but well-coordinated manner because each disaster is unique and poses unusual challenges. The health services required differ markedly according to the nature of the disaster and the geographical spread of those affected. Epidemiology has shown that services need to be equipped to deal with major depressive disorder and grief, not just posttraumatic stress disorder, and not only for victims of the disaster itself but also the emergency service workers. The challenge is for specialist advisers to respect and understand the existing health care and support networks of those affected while also recognizing their limitations. In the initial aftermath of these events, a great deal of effort goes into the development of early support systems but the longer term needs of these populations are often underestimated. These services need to be structured, taking into account the pre-existing psychiatric morbidity within the community. Disasters are an opportunity for improving services for patients with posttraumatic psychopathology in general but can later be utilized for improving services for victims of more common traumas in modern society, such as accidents and interpersonal violence.
Article
Full-text available
Since the terrorist attacks and anthrax release in 2001, almost $32 billion has been allocated to biodefense and biosurveillance in the USA alone. Surveillance in health care refers to the continual systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data. When attempting to detect agents of bioterrorism, surveillance can occur in several ways. Syndromic surveillance occurs by monitoring clinical manifestations of certain illnesses. Laboratory surveillance occurs by looking for certain markers or laboratory data, and environmental surveillance is the process by which the ambient air or environment is continually sampled for the presence of biological agents. This paper focuses on the ways by which we detect bioterrorism agents and the effectiveness of these systems.
Article
Full-text available
A rarely investigated consequence of heat exposure is renal dysfunction resulting from dehydration and hyperthermia. Our study aims to quantify the relationship between exposure to extreme high temperatures and renal morbidity in South Australia. Poisson regression accounting for over dispersion, seasonality and long-term trend was used to estimate the effect of heat waves on hospital admissions for renal disease, acute renal failure and renal dialysis over a 12-year period. Selected comorbidities were investigated as possible contributing risk factors. Admissions for renal disease and acute renal failure were increased during heat waves compared with non-heat wave periods with an incidence rate ratio of 1.100 [95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.003-1.206] and 1.255 (95% CI 1.037-1.519), respectively. Hospitalizations for dialysis showed no corresponding increase. Comorbid diabetes did not increase the risk of renal admission, however 'effects of heat and light' and 'exposure to excessive natural heat' (collectively termed effects of heat) were identified as risk factors. Our findings suggest that as heat waves become more frequent, the burden of renal morbidity may increase in susceptible individuals as an indirect consequence of global warming.
Article
Full-text available
Extensive water damage after major hurricanes and floods increases the likelihood of mold contamination in buildings. This report provides information on how to limit exposure to mold and how to identify and prevent mold-related health effects. Where uncertainties in scientific knowledge exist, practical applications designed to be protective of a person's health are presented. Evidence is included about assessing exposure, clean-up and prevention, personal protective equipment, health effects, and public health strategies and recommendations. The recommendations assume that, in the aftermath of major hurricanes or floods, buildings wet for <48 hours will generally support visible and extensive mold growth and should be remediated, and excessive exposure to mold-contaminated materials can cause adverse health effects in susceptible persons regardless of the type of mold or the extent of contamination. For the majority of persons, undisturbed mold is not a substantial health hazard. Mold is a greater hazard for persons with conditions such as impaired host defenses or mold allergies. To prevent exposure that could result in adverse health effects from disturbed mold, persons should 1) avoid areas where mold contamination is obvious; 2) use environmental controls; 3) use personal protective equipment; and 4) keep hands, skin, and clothing clean and free from mold-contaminated dust. Clinical evaluation of suspected mold-related illness should follow conventional clinical guidelines. In addition, in the aftermath of extensive flooding, health-care providers should be watchful for unusual mold-related diseases. The development of a public health surveillance strategy among persons repopulating areas after extensive flooding is recommended to assess potential health effects and the effectiveness of prevention efforts. Such a surveillance program will help CDC and state and local public health officials refine the guidelines for exposure avoidance, personal protection, and clean-up and assist health departments to identify unrecognized hazards.
Article
This was a retrospective study that combined with emergency department visit chief complaint and power outage data to evaluation of carbon monoxide poisoning during hurricane Sandy in three most affected New York State counties.
Article
ntroduction On January 2, 2014, Cyclone Bejisa struck Reunion Island (France). This storm led to major material damages, such as power outages, disturbance of drinking water systems, road closures, and the evacuation of residents. In this context, the Regional Office of French Institute for Public Health Surveillance in Indian Ocean (Cire OI) set up an epidemiological surveillance in order to describe short-term health effects of the cyclone. METHODS: The assessment of the health impact was based mainly on a syndromic surveillance system, including the activity of all emergency departments (EDs) and the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) of the island. From these data, several health indicators were collected and analyzed daily and weekly. To complete this assessment, all medical charts recorded in the EDs of Reunion Island from January 2, 2014 through January 5, 2014 were reviewed in order to identify visits directly and indirectly related to the cyclone, and to determine mechanisms of injuries. RESULTS: The number of calls to the EMS peaked the day of the cyclone, and the number of ED visits increased markedly over the next two days. At the same time, a significant increase in visits for trauma, burns, and carbon monoxide poisoning was detected in all EDs. Among 1,748 medical records reviewed, eight visits were directly related to the cyclone and 208 were indirectly related. For trauma, the main mechanisms of injury were falls and injuries by machinery or tools during the clean-up and repair works. Due to prolonged power outages, several patients were hospitalized: some to assure continuity of care, others to take care of an exacerbation of a chronic disease. An increase in leptospirosis cases linked to post-cyclone clean-up was observed two weeks after the cyclone. CONCLUSION: Information based on the syndromic surveillance system allowed the authors to assess rapidly the health impact of Cyclone Bejisa in Reunion Island; however, an underestimation of this impact was still possible. In the near future, several lines of work will be planned by the authors in order to improve the assessment.
Article
Heatwaves are a seasonal threat to public health. During July 2013 England experienced a heatwave; we used a suite of syndromic surveillance systems to monitor the impact of the heatwave. Significant increases in heatstroke and sunstroke were observed during 7-10 July 2013. Syndromic surveillance provided an innovative and effective service, supporting heatwave planning and providing early warning of the impact of extreme heat thereby improving the public health response to heatwaves. Crown Copyright
Article
This report describes the development of novel syndromic cold weather public health surveillance indicators for use in monitoring the impact of extreme cold weather on attendances at EDs, using data from the 2010–11 and 2011–12 winters. A number of new surveillance indicators were created specifically for the identification and monitoring of cold weather related ED attendances, using the diagnosis codes provided for each attendance in the Emergency Department Syndromic Surveillance System (EDSSS), the first national syndromic surveillance system of its kind in the UK. Using daily weather data for the local area, a time series analysis to test the sensitivity of each indicator to cold weather was undertaken. Diagnosis codes relating to a health outcome with a potential direct link to cold weather were identified and assigned to a number of ‘cold weather surveillance indicators’. The time series analyses indicated strong correlations between low temperatures and cold indicators in nearly every case. The strongest fit with temperature was cold related fractures in females, and that of snowfall was cold related fractures in both sexes. Though currently limited to a small number of sentinel EDs, the EDSSS has the ability to give near real-time detail on the magnitude of the impact of weather events. EDSSS cold weather surveillance fits well with the aims of the Cold Weather Plan for England, providing information on those particularly vulnerable to cold related health outcomes severe enough to require emergency care. This timely information aids those responding to and managing the effects on human health, both within the EDs themselves and in the community as a whole.
Article
During 2009-2011, Pike County, Kentucky, experienced a series of severe weather events that resulted in property damage, insufficient potable water, and need for temporary shelters. A Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) survey was implemented for future planning. CASPER assesses household health status, preparedness level, and anticipated demand for shelters. We used a 2-stage cluster sampling design to randomly select 210 representative households for in-person interviews. We estimated the proportion of households with children aged 2 years or younger; adults aged 65 years or older; and residents with chronic health conditions, visual impairments, physical limitations, and supplemental oxygen requirements. Of all households surveyed, 8% included children aged 2 years or younger, and 27% included adults aged 65 years or older. The most common chronic health conditions were heart disease (51%), diabetes (28%), lung disease (23%), and asthma (21%). Visual impairments were reported in 29% of households, physical limitations in 24%, and supplemental oxygen use in 12%. Pike County residents should be encouraged to maintain an adequate supply of medications and copies of their prescriptions. Emergency response plans should include transportation for persons with physical limitations; and shelter plans should include sufficient medically trained staff and adequate supplies of infant formula, pharmaceuticals, and supplemental oxygen. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;7:597-602).
Article
Context: On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall and devastated New York's metropolitan area, causing widespread damage to homes and the utility infrastructure. Eight days later, snow and freezing temperatures from a nor'easter storm delayed utility restoration. Objective: To examine carbon monoxide (CO) exposures in the 2 weeks following Hurricane Sandy. Methods. This was a retrospective review of prospectively collected, standardized, and de-identified data sets. CO exposures and poisonings identified from two electronic surveillance systems, the New York City Poison Control Center (NYCPCC) and New York City's Syndromic Surveillance Unit, were compared with CO exposures from identical dates in 2008-2011. Data collected from the poison center included exposure type, CO source, poisoning type, treatment, and outcomes. Data collected from the Syndromic Surveillance Unit cases, which were identified by CO-related chief complaints presenting to NYC hospitals, included visit date and time, and patient demographics. Results: Four hundred thirty-seven CO exposures were reported to the NYCPCC, 355 from NYC callers, and the remainder from surrounding counties, which represented a significant increase when compared with CO exposures from identical dates in the preceding 4 years (p < 0.001). The total cases that were reported to the NYCPCC in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 were 18, 13, 24, and 61, respectively. Excluding a single apartment fire that occurred (n = 311), the more common sources of CO were grilling indoors (26.2%) and generators (17.5%). Syndromic surveillance captured 70 cases; 6 cases were captured by both data sets. Conclusions: CO exposures following weather-related disasters are a significant public health concern, and the use of fuel-burning equipment is a clear source of storm-related morbidity and mortality. Multiple real-time epidemiologic surveillance tools are useful in estimating the prevalence of CO exposure and poisoning and are necessary to assist public health efforts to prevent CO poisoning during and after disasters.
Article
As triggers have a potential to induce asthma exacerbations, awareness of the patients to individual triggers as well as protective measures might be helpful to prevent asthma attacks. Though allergens and allergen avoidance have been studied extensively, there are only few studies on non-allergic triggers and their avoidance for adult patients with asthma. In this study, we wanted to investigate asthma triggers and compliance to the preventive measures in an adult population. One hundred and thirty one adult asthma patients were enrolled into the study. A face to face interview was done by using a questionnaire including individual asthma triggers, prevention measures against major modifiable triggers and knowledge sources of the cases. Regardless of asthma severity, 59.5 % of the subjects reported to be triggered by more than 10 factors. The most common triggers were air pollutants (89.3 %) and weather changes (81.7 %). Severe group was more frequently affected by medications, emotional stress, weather changes and indoor pollutants than other severity groups (p=0.017, 0.014, 0.049 and 0.018, respectively) whereas stress was reported more frequently by females than males. Prevention measures were insufficient regarding some major triggers. Adult patients are vulnerable to several triggers regardless from underlying severity of the illness. Insufficient compliance to the major preventive measures indicates that new strategies are needed to prevent asthma attacks caused by modifiable triggers.
Article
Innovative electronic surveillance systems are being developed to improve early detection of outbreaks attributable to biologic terrorism or other causes. A review of the rationale, goals, definitions, and realistic expectations for these surveillance systems is a crucial first step toward establishing a framework for further research and development in this area. This commentary provides such a review for current syndromic surveillance systems. Syndromic surveillance has been used for early detection of outbreaks, to follow the size, spread, and tempo of outbreaks, to monitor disease trends, and to provide reassurance that an outbreak has not occurred. Syndromic surveillance systems seek to use existing health data in real time to provide immediate analysis and feedback to those charged with investigation and follow-up of potential outbreaks. Optimal syndrome definitions for continuous monitoring and specific data sources best suited to outbreak surveillance for specific diseases have not been determined. Broadly applicable signal-detection methodologies and response protocols that would maximize detection while preserving scant resources are being sought. Stakeholders need to understand the advantages and limitations of syndromic surveillance systems. Syndromic surveillance systems might enhance collaboration among public health agencies, health-care providers, information-system professionals, academic investigators, and industry. However, syndromic surveillance does not replace traditional public health surveillance, nor does it substitute for direct physician reporting of unusual or suspect cases of public health importance.
Article
The increased threat of bioterroristic attacks and epidemic events requires the development of accurate and timely outbreak detection systems for early identification of anomalies in public health data. We propose an automated outbreak detection system based on syndromic data. This system uses an autoregressive model with seasonal components to monitor, online, the daily counts of chief complaints for respiratory syndromes at the emergency department of two major metropolitan hospitals. We evaluate this system by estimating the false positive rate in real data under the assumption that there were no outbreaks of disease, and the true positive rate in real baseline data in which we injected stochastically simulated outbreaks of different shape and size. We then use directed graphical models to account for the effect of exogenous factors on the detection performance of the system. Our study shows that for a week-long outbreak, our model has an overall 84.8% true detection accuracy across all shapes of outbreaks, while the outbreak size influences the earliness to detection. The false and true positive rates are also associated with the exogenous factors and knowledge about these factors can help to improve the detection accuracy. This study suggests that the integration of multiple data sources can significantly improve the detection accuracy of syndromic surveillance systems.
Administration Releases Total Hurricane Sandy Damage Assessment of $36.9 Billion. State of New Jersey website
  • M Drewniak
  • R Roberts
  • Christie
Drewniak M, Roberts R. Christie Administration Releases Total Hurricane Sandy Damage Assessment of $36.9 Billion. State of New Jersey website. http://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/552012/approved/20121128e.html. Published November 28, 2012. Accessed April 5, 2016.
Triggers in adult asthma: are patients aware of triggers and doing right?
  • Ö Göksel
  • Ge Çelik
  • Öner Erkekol
Göksel Ö, Çelik GE, Öner Erkekol F, et al. Triggers in adult asthma: are patients aware of triggers and doing right? Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2009;37(3):122-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0301-0546(09) 71723-9.
The Impact of Superstorm Sandy on New Jersey Towns and Households. Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration
  • Hoopes Halpin
Hoopes Halpin SH. The Impact of Superstorm Sandy on New Jersey Towns and Households. Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration. http://njdatabank.newark.rutgers.edu/sites/default/ files/files/RutgersSandyImpact-FINAL-25Oct13.pdf. Published 2013.
National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Earth Institute, Columbia University website. http:// ncdp.columbia.edu/microsite-page/sandy-child-and-family-health-study/scafhpublications-reports
  • D Sandy Abramson
  • Family Health Child
  • Study
Abramson D. Sandy Child and Family Health Study. National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Earth Institute, Columbia University website. http:// ncdp.columbia.edu/microsite-page/sandy-child-and-family-health-study/scafhpublications-reports/. Published 2015. Accessed April 5, 2016.
Loss events worldwide 1980-2014
  • Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft
Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft (Munich Re). Loss events worldwide 1980-2014. http://preventionweb.net/go/44281. Published January 2015. Accessed April 5, 2016.
Loss events worldwide
  • Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft
Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft (Munich Re). Loss events worldwide 1980-2014. http://preventionweb.net/go/44281. Published January 2015. Accessed April 5, 2016.
Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • S Solomon
  • D Qui
  • M Manning
Solomon S, Qui D, Manning M, et al, eds. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press; 2007.