Frankenstorm Emphasizes the Value of Community Health Surveillance

Weather forecasters are predicting that the remnants of Hurricane Sandy will hit the east coast hard this week—a one/two punch of a winter weather system and weakening hurricane. Utilizing Community Health Surveillance during this time will help public health departments to prepare, monitor, investigate, and respond to any threats.

In the fall of 2011, New Jersey faced a similarly daunting weather emergency when Hurricane Irene came barreling up the coast. New Jersey utilized the EpiCenter Community Health Surveillance system, and its custom classifiers functionality, to learn more about a specific after-effect of the hurricane—an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning due to the use of portable gas-powered generators.

Teresa Hamby, MSPH, Data Analyst in the Communicable Disease Service of the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services, presented the findings of the carbon monoxide/hurricane connection at the CSTE conference in Omaha this year—and discussed how the findings will be used in an article this past summer.