Challenges to Implementing Communicable Disease Surveillance in New York City Evacuation Shelters After Hurricane Sandy, November 2012


Hurricane Sandy hit New York City (NYC) on October 29, 2012. Before and after the storm, 73 temporary evacuation shelters were established. The total census of these shelters peaked at approximately 6,800 individuals. Concern about the spread of communicable diseases in shelters prompted the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to rapidly develop a surveillance system to report communicable diseases and emergency department transports from shelters. We describe the implementation of this system. Establishing effective surveillance in temporary shelters was challenging and required in-person visits by DOHMH staff to ensure reporting. After system establishment, surveillance data were used to identify some potential disease clusters. For the future, we recommend pre-event planning for disease surveillance.


These results and lessons learned can be useful for planning future responses to natural disasters or other public health emergencies.


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September, 2015

September 06, 2017

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The National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) is a collaboration among states and public health jurisdictions that contribute data to the BioSense Platform, public health practitioners who use local syndromic surveillance systems, Center for Disease Control and Prevention programs, other federal agencies, partner organizations, hospitals, healthcare professionals, and academic institutions.

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