Improved public health system best means of stemming effects from future disasters
A Johns Hopkins emergency physician who spent the past five weeks working on public health issues in the Gulf Coast region following hurricane Katrina warns that the disasters potential for wreaking havoc and damage to peoples health may continue for months after the hurricane has passed.
In an editorial published this month in The New England Journal of Medicine, Thomas Kirsch, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor and director of emergency operations at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reports that large numbers of displaced people are at increased risk of infectious diseases, such as chicken pox, gastroenteritis, scabies and influenza, which can spread quickly in disaster shelters. In these confined quarters, Kirsch says, crowded and poor sanitary conditions, including limited access to clean water and insufficient numbers of toilets, help spread disease from person to person.
David March | EurekAlert!
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