January 8, 2013

Are Epidemics After Disasters Inevitable?

Jonathan Katz, Popular Science

AP Photo

Few post-disaster myths have a stronger hold on our imaginations than the specter of a follow-on epidemic. Some imagine a killer virus will spread through the sudden glut of dead bodies. Others merely go by the notion that when it rains--or shakes, or erupts, or burns--it pours. But we can all take a deep, healthy breath: It’s not true. There don’t tend to be spontaneous epidemics in the wake of natural disasters. As a World Health Organization team explained in a 2007 study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases: “The risk for outbreaks after natural disasters is low.”

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TAGGED: Natural Disaster, Cholera, Epidemic