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Hurricane Katrina Relief Update

By CBN Staff, September 7, 2005

NIH has Established Katrina Call Center

The NIH has established a Katrina Call Center to provide medical consultation services. Primary care providers for patients in the Katrina disaster zone who wish to consult with specialists in the field of environmental/toxic medicine, infectious diseases and tropical/geographical medicine, ophthalmology, oral medicine, or psychiatry may call 1-866-887-2842.

New CDC Recommendations: Diarrhea Management & Immunizations

The CDC has issued guidelines for the management of acute diarrhea. The mainstay of care is rehydration therapy. Antimotility agents should not be given to those with fever or who have bloody/mucoid diarrhea. The CDC states that the decision to treat empirically with antimicrobial therapy should be made on a “patient-by-patient basis, on clinical grounds, which may include fever, bloody or mucoid stools, and/or suspicion of sepsis.” Note: The CBN staff would like to remind clinicians that pediatric patients who are afebrile and have bloody diarrhea might be suspected of having E. coli 0157:H7 infection, although this pathogen is unlikely in this epidemiologic setting. Patients suspected of being infected with E. coli 0157:H7 should be observed as antimicrobial therapy has no demonstrated benefit and there is a theoretical concern that it may lead to complications (hemolytic uremic syndrome).

The CDC also has issued interim immunization recommendations for individuals displaced by Hurricane Katrina. To reduce the likelihood of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in crowded group settings, the CDC recommends that the following vaccines be given:

  • Influenza: Everyone 6 months of age or older

  • Varicella: Everyone 12 months of age or older and born in the U.S. after 1965, unless they have a history of chickenpox

  • MMR: Everyone 12 months of age or older and born after 1957

  • Hepatitis A: Everyone 2 years of age or older unless they have a clear history of hepatitis A

  • Immunocompromised individuals, including HIV-infected persons and those who are pregnant or on systemic steroids should not receive live-attenuated vaccines, such as varicella or MMR.

In addition to the above, providers should ensure that individuals are up to date with current immunization recommendations.

Update on DHHS Call for Volunteers

The Office of The Surgeon General and the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness are seeking multidisciplinary healthcare professionals and relief personnel with expertise in the following areas to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts: Clinical Physicians, Physician Chiefs of Staff, Physician's Assistants or Nurse Practitioners, RNs, LPNs, Nursing Assistants/Nursing Support Technicians, Nursing Staff Directors, Respiratory Therapists, Psychologists, Pharmacists, Dieticians, Dentists, Epidemiologists, Environmental Health Workers, Social Workers, Veterinarians, Administration/Finance Officers, Chaplain/Social Worker, Patient Transporters/Volunteers, Facility Managers, Housekeepers, Safety Officers, IT/Communications Officers, Security Officers, Medical Clerks, Supply Managers, and Mental Health Workers.

The following categories of healthcare professional volunteers were added on September 5: Coroners, dental forensics experts, EMTs, lab technicians, medical examiners, morticians, mortuary assistants, paramedics, and radiologic technicians. Volunteers can complete a form online: https://volunteer.ccrf.hhs.gov/ (scroll to bottom of page). The Office of the Surgeon General notes that it will not respond to individual inquiries, but will contact those who submit an application and meet the requirements and needs of the field.

Resources for Relief Workers

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers for Medical & Relief Volunteers: DHHS has posted a page of FAQs for relief workers.

  • Interim Health Recommendations for Relief Workers: The CDC has posted recommendations for relief workers, advising them of risk and health recommendations. Information also includes advice for assembling a travelers’ health kit and a detailed checklist of items to pack.

  • National Library of Medicine Information for Emergency Response Teams: Information on toxicology and environmental health for emergency response teams; specific topics include: Environmental cleanup and recovery, drinking water, food safety, farming and agriculture, mold, animals in emergencies, information in Spanish, and much more.

Please forward this e-mail to your colleagues and others who would find it useful, and encourage them to register for the Clinicians' Biosecurity Network (CBN).