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Track temps and heat illness trends, CDC tells health agencies

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Washington — As ER visits tied to heat-related illnesses continue to rise, public health agencies should monitor forecasts and look for injury trends among groups sensitive to heat – including outdoor workers, a new study concludes.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program. From May through September last year, ER visits related to heat-related illnesses “substantially increased” in multiple regions of the country compared with the same months in 2018-2022.

The study cites NASA data showing the warm-season months of May through September 2023 were the hottest on record in the United States.

CDC says other groups at increased risk of health concerns during extreme heat are:

  • Individuals with preexisting health conditions
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women

“Deaths and illnesses associated with heat exposure are a continuing public health concern as climate change results in longer, hotter and more frequent episodes of extreme heat,” the researchers write. “Near real-time monitoring of weather conditions and adverse health outcomes can guide public health practitioners’ timing of risk communication and implementation of prevention measures associated with extreme heat.”

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