The impact of the June 2021 heatwave on heat-related emergency department visits is addressed in a report published in the July 16 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Paul J. Schramm, M.P.H., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program to examine heat-related emergency department visits for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 10, including Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, during May 1 to June 30 in 2019 and 2021.
The researchers found that HHS Region 10 had 3,504 heat-related illness emergency department visits during May and June 2021; about 79 percent (2,779 visits) occurred during six days (June 25 to 30), when most of Oregon and Washington were under an excessive heat warning. There was a clear peak on June 28, with 1,090 heat-related illness emergency department visits. After adjustment to facilitate comparison between 2021 and 2019, there were 1,038 heat-related illness emergency department visits on June 28, 2021, compared with nine in 2019. The mean daily number of heat-related illness visits in HHS Region 10 was more than sevenfold higher for June 2021 versus June 2019 (102 versus 14) and was 69 times higher during June 25 to 30, 2021, versus the same days in 2019.
“Environmental emergencies necessitate timely mechanisms for tracking health information,” the authors write. “Syndromic surveillance helps meet this need through near real-time monitoring of health conditions to trigger response, guide policy, allocate resources, and save lives.”