Post-Blackout Illness
Already Found in NYC

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

Hello Jeff - As I mentioned previously, a blackout that would last for an extended period of time would kill MORE people then a Smallpox outbreak.
Food-borne illness is only ONE illness that we will see spike in power outage states. Vectored illness will be a significant problem, in my opinion. Many people who are not accustomed to overnighting in the out-of-doors will be a risk for West Nile Virus and other mosquito illness. Those who were in the outdoors in tick, fly and flea infested areas are at risk for Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick Paralysis etc etal.
It appears that the NYC health dept does expect to see spike in illness after the blackout and they appear to be monitoring for cases. I hope that they are also monitoring for vectored illnesses like WNV etal.
Again, I think that the US needs to make immediate upgrades of infrastructure, especially when it comes to generation, tramsmission and continuity of electric power. All of our monitary resources should have and should be going into upgrading power supply and modernizing the grid system. Nation building needs to be done here, at home. As I mentioned, more people would die during a significant power outage then would die in smallpox or ebola outbreak. I would hope that George W Bush would take this into consideration before he spends more of our resources Nation building around the globe.
Patricia Doyle
A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2003 From: ProMED-mail <> Source: New York City Department of Health website [edited]
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Issues Health Advisory on Food-Borne Illnesses
Earlier this evening, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's syndromic surveillance system detected a higher-than-usual number of visits for diarrheal illnesses at emergency departments in New York City. The Health Department is continuing to investigate the increase and monitor the trend.
Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said, "While we do not know the specific cause of this spike in diarrheal illnesses, it is possible that it was caused by spoiled food eaten at home or elsewhere. This underscores the need to make sure that food that spoiled during the power outage is not consumed and is thrown out if there is any doubt as to its safety. It is critical for New Yorkers to avoid getting sick by following food safety guidelines.
The 5 key rules are:
1. Use common sense -- foods, such as dairy products, meat (red meat, chicken, and seafood), and particularly items such as previously cooked rice or potatoes, are not safe to eat after a prolonged period without refrigeration. 2. Better safe than sorry. 3. Evaluate each food item separately. 4. Never taste food to see if it is bad. 5. "When in doubt, throw it out."
The Health Department emphasized that testing of the drinking water in New York City by the Department of Environmental Protection continues to confirm that the drinking water is safe.
Detailed food safety guidelines are given below:
Perishable, refrigerated foods that have been without refrigeration and at more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours should be discarded. Refrigerated foods that should be discarded include meat (red meat, chicken, seafood), hot dogs, bacon, pizza, open canned meats, soft cheeses, milk, yogurt, eggs or egg dishes, fresh cut fruits, opened mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, creamy salad dressings, opened tomato sauces, biscuits, rolls, cookie dough, cooked pasta, pasta salads, cheesecake, cream-filled pastries, cooked vegetables, baked potatoes, and potato salad.
Any perishable food that has thawed for more than 2 hours and is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit -- whether from the refrigerator or the freezer -- should be discarded.
Food items that can be kept for a limited period of time without refrigeration include: Hard, processed cheeses: (e.g., cheddar, swiss, parmesan, provolone, romano); butter, margarine; opened fruit juices, opened canned fruits, peanut butter, jellies and mustards, opened vinegar-based dressings, breads, rolls, cakes, muffins, breads, waffles, pancakes, bagels, pies, fruit, herbs, spices, and raw vegetables.
Any food items discarded should be disposed of in double-bagged plastic garbage bags and should be well-tied, and/or in sealed plastic containers or sealed (e.g. zipper-locked) plastic bags.
After the power returned, it was OK to refreeze frozen foods that still contained ice crystals and felt cold. These include beef, veal, poultry and ground meats, fish, shellfish, seafood products, egg products, soft and hard cheese, casseroles, juices, fruits, vegetables, cakes, pies, pastries, flours, cornmeal, and frozen meals.
As a general rule, a well-functioning freezer that was unopened and at least half full will have kept foods cold for about 24 hours.
The Health Department has dispatched dozens of inspectors to food establishments citywide to make sure they comply with these guidelines.
New Yorkers concerned about food poisoning can call the New York City Poison Control Center at (212) POISONS or (212) 764-7667 or 311 and can register complaints though 311 or the DOHMH website at <>. New Yorkers are asked to call 911 only for emergencies. More information on food safety recommendations can also be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site at <>.
-- ProMED-mail <>
[This outbreak of gastrointestinal illness was picked up by the surveillance system in New York City designed to identify spikes in one of a number of syndromes related to natural or man-made outbreaks. The further evaluation of these illnesses is underway, and the proper triage of food following the power failure is explained above. - Mod.LL] .................jw/ll/pg/jw
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health




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