Calif. Wildfires Cause Anxiety, Exacerbating Health Conditions
Tens of thousands of California residents who have been evacuated from their homes in the wake of two large wildfires are likely to experience mental health issues, which could exacerbate their chronic health conditions, KQED's "State of Health" reports (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 9/15).
Background on Fires
More than 23,000 Californians have been displaced by the wildfires burning south of Sacramento and north of San Francisco. As of Tuesday, about 138,660 acres were consumed by the two fires according to Fortune.
Mark Bove, senior research meteorologist at reinsurance firm Munich Re America, said the fire near San Francisco is on track to be the most destructive in the state --- when measured by insurance costs -- since 1991 (Groden, Fortune, 9/15).
Details of Health Issues
So far, mental health staff members in evacuation centers said that residents are experiencing shock. However, they said the residents likely will begin showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression in coming days.
Colleen Townsend, a Napa physician who has set up a temporary health care clinic at an evacuee center in Calistoga, said residents' anxiety about how the fire could be affecting their homes and belongings is exacerbating other health conditions. In addition, Townsend said that many residents with chronic health problems were forced to leave their homes in a hurry and were unable to bring their medications.
Now living in evacuation centers, Townsend said such individuals are experiencing spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure from "the stress of the occasion," adding, "Without adequate supplies of their medicines, that can cause acute symptoms like feeling shaky, nausea, sometimes dehydration" ("State of Health," KQED, 9/15).
Meanwhile, the fires also could cause ongoing respiratory health issues for residents living nearby, according to Fortune (Fortune, 9/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.