The physical health impacts of tropical cyclones

Mitchell, Rob D., Aitken, Peter, and Franklin, Richard C. (2014) The physical health impacts of tropical cyclones. Annals of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine, 15 (1). pp. 2-8.

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Tropical cyclones, also known as typhoons and hurricanes, are low-pressure weather systems characterised by extremely fast rotational winds. They disproportionately affect developing countries and have the potential to seriously disrupt basic societal functions. Like other natural disasters, cyclones also impact on health. This literature review considers the epidemiology of these events in terms of trauma, communicable disease and non-communicable disease.

Trauma is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, although mechanisms vary between events. Both drowning and building collapse can lead to large numbers of fatalities. Minor injuries represent the primary cause of morbidity in the post-impact phase but carbon monoxide poisoning from inappropriate generator use is emerging as an important risk in both adult and paediatric patients. While communicable disease outbreaks are uncommon in developed settings, gastroenteritis, vector-borne disease and acute respiratory illness pose particular problems in developing communities.

Non-communicable disease constitutes a considerable proportion of healthcare attendances following cyclones, and exacerbations as well as treatment disruptions of chronic diseases are increasingly being recognised as a cause of cyclone-related morbidity and mortality.

Although Australia has well-developed public health infrastructure, major cyclones still have the potential to cause significant human suffering. This review will assist tropical communities in planning for these severe weather events. Implicit in its findings is the importance of injury prevention strategies, communicable disease surveillance and provision for managing chronic illnesses.

Item ID: 33658
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-4706
Keywords: cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, trauma, disease, communicable, non-communicable
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2014 06:47
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111716 Preventive Medicine @ 80%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110305 Emergency Medicine @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 100%
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