Indexed on: 05 Nov '97Published on: 05 Nov '97Published in: Preventive Medicine
On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki, a Class III/IV storm, passed directly over Kauai. This study is the first attempt to measure increases in injuries and other health outcomes among an entire population in the impact zone of a hurricane.Medical chart data were abstracted from all facilities providing primary and emergency care on Kauai. Incidence of injury, cardiovascular disease, and asthma for the 2-week period following Hurricane Iniki were compared to those for the 2-week period preceding Iniki.A total of 1,584 injuries were treated in the post-Iniki period compared with 231 injuries treated in the pre-Iniki period (relative risk = 6.86, 95% confidence interval 5.98-7.87). Open wounds constituted over half of these injuries. Physician visits for asthma and cardiovascular disease were also significantly increased in the post-Iniki period (relative risks, respectively: 2.81, 95% confidence interval 1.93-4.09; 2.73, 95% confidence interval 1.51-4.94).Significant increases in the incidence of injuries, asthma, and cardiovascular disease occurred following Hurricane Iniki. Although no changes occurred in the proportion of patients needing hospitalization, additional injuries and illnesses after a natural disaster can burden existing medical facilities in a rural community with limited resources. Disaster preparedness plans need to include methods to increase services and supplies at existing medical facilities.