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- Let’s return to the issue of outbreaks of disease following a disaster. It is a common view that an increased occurrence of communicable diseases occurs after a disaster. One common perception is that dead bodies need to be buried as soon as possible to reduce the risk for the spread of disease.
- In most disaster situations, however, disease outbreaks are not the primary concern. It is the view of many disaster professionals that the risk for outbreaks will not lie immediately after an event, but 1-2 weeks later. They regard the treatment of the injured as receiving the highest priority, rather than the disposal of dead bodies.
- This is not to say that disease outbreaks cannot occur following a disaster. Several changes brought about by a disaster may increase the risk for such an outbreak. These include changes affecting vector populations, changes in housing for humans, the destruction of the health care infrastructure, and the interruption of normal health services geared towards communicable diseases. Relief workers should take a survey of these factors following a disaster to determine if the environment is favorable for an outbreak.