Today, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a Health Alert Network titled "2012 ALERT # 34: Respiratory Health in New York City Neighborhoods Most Affected by Hurricane Sandy". In this report (see attached) is the following statement:
November 15, 2012
Hurricane Sandy damaged many neighborhoods in New York City. Over this past week, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has received reports from clinicians working in heavily storm damaged areas that they are seeing patients presenting with respiratory illness, such as cough and asthma.
DOHMH has interviewed healthcare providers working in mobile units throughout the Rockaways, one of the most heavily damaged areas. Providers in the Rockaways have identified patients with respiratory symptoms that they have attributed to viral respiratory infections, exposure to respiratory irritants due to clean-up work, or exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to these providers, many patients with signs and symptoms of asthma or COPD had a pre-existing diagnosis of these conditions and had run out of their regular medications. DOHMH analysis of NYC emergency department visits shows that asthma visits increased slightly in the immediate days following Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways, Coney Island, and Staten Island, but have now returned to baseline. Analysis of data from other sources is ongoing. Routine monitoring of outdoor air quality by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has not identified any new air quality risks since Hurricane Sandy.
In regards to the comments about viral etiology triggering asthma exacerbation was precisely what the Ascel Bio National Infectious Disease Center forecasted for Hurricane Sandy 14 days ago,
- Viruses: coronaviruses (non-SARS), parainfluenza, and influenza, with rhinovirus activity expected to recede. These virues are known to cause croup and trigger exacerbation of reactive airway / asthma in those susceptible. Occasionally, they can cause infection in the lungs, referred to as "pneumonia".