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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Issue 2, pp e142–e148 | Cite as

Public health surveillance response following the southern Alberta floods, 2013

  • Vanita Sahni
  • Allison N. Scott
  • Marie Beliveau
  • Marie Varughese
  • Douglas C. Dover
  • James Talbot
Quantitative Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: In June of 201 3, southern Alberta underwent flooding that affected approximately 100,000 people. We describe the process put in place for public health surveillance and assessment of the impacts on health.

METHODS: Public health surveillance was implemented for the six-week period after the flood to detect anticipated health events, including injuries, mental health problems and infectious diseases. Data sources were emergency departments (EDs) for presenting complaints, public health data on the post-exposure administration of tetanus vaccine/immunoglobulin, administrative data on prescription drugs, and reportable diseases.

RESULTS: An increase in injuries was detected through ED visits among Calgary residents (rate ratio [RR] 1.28, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.14–1.43) and was supported by a 75% increase in the average weekly administration of post-exposure prophylaxis against tetanus. Mental health impacts in High River residents were observed among females through a 1.64-fold (95% CI: 1.11–2.43) and 2.32-fold (95% CI: 1.45–3.70) increase in new prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication and sleep aids respectively. An increase in sexual assaults presenting to EDs (RR 3.18, 95% CI: 1.29–7.84) was observed among Calgary residents. No increases in infectious gastrointestinal disease or respiratory illness were identified. Timely identification and communication of surveillance alerts allowed for messaging around the use of personal protective equipment and precautions for personal safety.

CONCLUSION: Existing data sources were used for surveillance following an emergency situation. The information produced, though limited, was sufficiently timely to inform public health decision-making.

Key words

Floods population surveillance epidemiology 

Résumé

OBJECTIF: En juin 201 3, des inondations ont touché environ 100 000 personnes dans le Sud de l’Alberta. Nous décrivons le processus mis en place pour surveiller la santé publique et évaluer les impacts sur la santé.

MÉTHODE: Une surveillance de la santé publique a été mise en œuvre pendant les six semaines qui ont suivi les inondations afin de détecter les épisodes morbides prévus: traumatismes, troubles de santé mentale et maladies infectieuses. Les sources de données étaient les présentations aux services d’urgence (SU), les données de santé publique sur l’administration post-exposition du vaccin antitétanique/de l’immunoglobuline, les données administratives sur les médicaments sur ordonnance, ainsi que les maladies à déclaration obligatoire.

RÉSULTATS: On a détecté une hausse des traumatismes chez les résidents de Calgary en examinant les visites aux SU (rapport de taux [RT] 1,28, intervalle de confiance de 95 % [IC]: 1,14–1,43); ce résultat était appuyé par une hausse de 75 % de l’administration hebdomadaire moyenne de la prophylaxie post-exposition contre le tétanos. Des effets sur la santé mentale des résidents de High River ont été observés chez les femmes d’après la multiplication par 1,64 (IC de 95 %: 1,11–2,43) et par 2,32 (IC de 95 %: 1,45–3,70) des nouvelles ordonnances de médicaments contre l’anxiété et de somnifères, respectivement. Une hausse des agressions sexuelles chez les personnes se présentant aux SU (RT 3,18, IC de 95 %: 1,29–7,84) a été observée chez les résidents de Calgary. Aucune hausse des maladies gastrointestinales infectieuses ni des maladies respiratoires n’a été constatée. L’identification rapide et la communication des alertes de surveillance ont permis d’émettre des messages sur l’utilisation d’équipement de protection individuelle et sur les précautions à prendre pour sa sécurité personnelle.

CONCLUSION: On a utilisé des sources de données existantes pour assurer la surveillance après une situation d’urgence. L’information produite, bien que limitée, a été suffisamment rapide pour éclairer la prise de décisions de santé publique. Il faudrait pousser la recherche pour confirmer la validité des résultats obtenus et l’utilité des interventions connexes.

Mots clés

inondations surveillance de population épidémiologie 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanita Sahni
    • 1
  • Allison N. Scott
    • 1
  • Marie Beliveau
    • 1
  • Marie Varughese
    • 1
  • Douglas C. Dover
    • 1
  • James Talbot
    • 1
  1. 1.Alberta Ministry of HealthEdmontonCanada

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