Ascertaining the impact of catastrophic events on dengue outbreak: The 2014 gas explosions in Kaohsiung, TaiwanReport as inadecuate




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Infectious disease outbreaks often occur in the aftermath of catastrophic events, either natural or man-made. While natural disasters such as typhoons-hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes have been known to increase the risk of infectious disease outbreak, the impact of anthropogenic disasters is less well-understood. Kaohsiung City is located in southern Taiwan, where most dengue outbreaks had occurred in the past two decades. It is also the center of petrochemical industry in Taiwan with pipelines running underneath city streets. Multiple underground gas explosions occurred in Kaohsiung in the evening of July 31, 2014 due to chemical leaks in the pipelines. The explosions caused 32 deaths, including five firefighters and two volunteer firefighters, and injured 321 persons. Historically, dengue outbreaks in southern Taiwan occurred mostly in small numbers of around 2000 cases or less, except in 2002 with over 5000 cases. However, in the months after the gas explosions, the city reported 14528 lab-confirmed dengue cases from August to December. To investigate the possible impact, if any, of the gas explosions on this record-breaking dengue outbreak, a simple mathematical model, the Richards model, is utilized to study the temporal patterns of the spread of dengue in the districts of Kaohsiung in the proximity of the explosion sites and to pinpoint the waves of infections that had occurred in each district in the aftermath of the gas explosions. The reproduction number of each wave in each district is also computed. In the aftermath of the gas explosions, early waves occurred 4–5 days which coincides with the minimum of human intrinsic incubation period for dengue later in districts with multiple waves. The gas explosions likely impacted the timing of the waves, but their impact on the magnitude of the 2014 outbreak remains unclear. The modeling suggests the need for public health surveillance and preparedness in the aftermath of future disasters.



Author: Ying-Hen Hsieh

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/



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