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Impact of heavy rains of 2018 in western Japan: disaster-induced health outcomes among the population of Innoshima Island


Southwestern Japan suffered its worst rains in 2018 causing floods and mudslides, claiming 225 lives and forcing millions for evacuations. Referred as "Heisei san-jū-nenshichi-gatsugōu", the disaster was the result of incessant precipitation caused by the interaction of typhoon "Prapiroon" with the seasonal rain front "Baiu". The present epidemiological study aims to investigate disaster-induced health issues in 728 residents of Innoshima island in the Hiroshima Prefecture by comparing their clinical data in pre-disaster (2017) and disaster-hit (2018) years which was obtained from annual health screening. Comparison of data showed a significant increase in the urine protein concentration in victims following the disaster. Probing further into the household conditions, showed that a total of 59,844 households were affected with water outage during the heavy rains, which was accompanied by severe damage of sewerage pipelines with complete recovery process taking two weeks. This two weeks of the crisis forced victims to refrain from using restrooms which in turn led to infrequent urination, thereby explaining the increased urine protein concentration in victims following the disaster. The present study addresses the acute health implications caused by the water crisis and serves as a precautionary measure for disaster management council to provide enhanced aftercare services in victims in further events of natural disasters.

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