Influenza A (H3) Outbreak at a Hurricane Harvey Megashelter in Harris County, Texas: Successes and Challenges in Disease Identification and Control Measure Implementation

Leann Liu, Aisha Haynie, Sherry Jin, Ana Zangeneh, Eric Bakota, Benjamin D. Hornstein, Dana Beckham, Brian C. Reed, Jennifer Kiger, Michael McClendon, Elizabeth Perez, Michael Schaffer, Les Becker, Umair A. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

When Hurricane Harvey landed along the Texas coast on August 25, 2017, it caused massive flooding and damage and displaced tens of thousands of residents of Harris County, Texas. Between August 29 and September 23, Harris County, along with community partners, operated a megashelter at NRG Center, which housed 3365 residents at its peak. Harris County Public Health conducted comprehensive public health surveillance and response at NRG, which comprised disease identification through daily medical record reviews, nightly cot-to-cot resident health surveys, and epidemiological consultations; messaging and communications; and implementation of control measures including stringent isolation and hygiene practices, vaccinations, and treatment. Despite the lengthy operation at the densely populated shelter, an early seasonal influenza A (H3) outbreak of 20 cases was quickly identified and confined. Influenza outbreaks in large evacuation shelters after a disaster pose a significant threat to populations already experiencing severe stressors. A holistic surveillance and response model, which consists of coordinated partnerships with onsite agencies, in-time epidemiological consultations, predesigned survey tools, trained staff, enhanced isolation and hygiene practices, and sufficient vaccines, is essential for effective disease identification and control. The lessons learned and successes achieved from this outbreak may serve for future disaster response settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-101
Number of pages5
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Hurricane Harvey
  • influenza outbreak
  • shelter surveillance and response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Influenza A (H3) Outbreak at a Hurricane Harvey Megashelter in Harris County, Texas: Successes and Challenges in Disease Identification and Control Measure Implementation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this