The continuity of care for patients with tuberculosis who were significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 was better preserved than those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, CDC researchers reported.
“This improvement might be attributed to: 1) preparedness measures learned from Hurricane Katrina; and 2) less widespread displacement of persons after Hurricane Sandy than occurred after Hurricane Katrina,” the researchers wrote in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Maintaining readiness among clinicians and TB control programs to respond to natural disasters remains essential to protecting public health and preserving TB patients’ continuity of care.”
The 15 most affected TB control programs were in Delaware, Washington, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, and in the cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. In these areas, 1,899 residents were receiving TB treatment. One week after the hurricane made landfall, all programs resumed normal operations. At least 10 of the programs had been closed for 2 days.
All of the patients were located and resumed TB treatment through directly observed therapy. None of the patients with TB in these affected areas were reported displaced during Hurricane Sandy, unlike after Hurricane Katrina, where nearly half of the patients in the New Orleans area were displaced.
“During an initial disaster response, the most urgent public health priorities are providing safe and adequate shelter, water, food and sanitation,” the researchers wrote. “A lesson learned from both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy was that all TB control programs should consider planning for emergencies that might result in mass displacement of patients or in disruptions in access to laboratory or other diagnostic services and in supply of medications.”
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant disclosures.