HEALTH FEATURE ARCHIVE
Immediate health concerns
- After the rescue of survivors, the primary public
health concerns are clean drinking water, food, shelter, and medical care for
- Flood waters
can pose health risks such as contaminated water and food supplies.
- Loss of shelter leaves people vulnerable to insect
exposure, heat, and other environmental hazards.
- The majority of deaths associated with tsunamis are
related to drownings, but traumatic injuries are also a primary concern.
Injuries such as broken limbs and head injuries are caused by the physical
impact of people being washed into debris such as houses, trees, and other
stationary items. As the water recedes, the strong suction of debris being
pulled into large populated areas can further cause injuries and undermine
buildings and services.
- Medical care is critical in areas where little medical
- Natural disasters do not necessarily cause an
increase in infectious disease outbreaks. However, contaminated water and food supplies as
well as the lack of shelter and medical care may have a secondary effect of
worsening illnesses that already exist in the affected region.
- Decaying bodies create very little risk of major
- The people most at risk are
those who handle the bodies or prepare them for burial.
effects of a disaster last a long time. The greater need for financial and
material assistance is in the months after a disaster, including
- surveying and monitoring for infectious and water- or
- diverting medical supplies from nonaffected areas to
meet the needs of the affected regions;
- restoring normal primary health services, water
systems, housing, and employment; and
- assisting the community to recover mentally and
socially when the crisis has subsided.
For additional information, please
visit the Travel Medicine
and First Aid
Source: Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov)
Last Editorial Review: 1/6/2005