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Preparing for the UnexpectedPneumonia After the Tsunami of 2011: Lessons Learned About Respiratory Infection From the Japanese Tsunami of 2011

Michael S. Niederman, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Medicine, Stony Brook University, The State University of New York (Stony Brook, NY); and Department of Medicine, Winthrop-University Hospital.

Correspondence to: Michael S. Niederman, MD, FCCP, Department of Medicine, Winthrop-University Hospital, 222 Station Plaza N, Ste 509, Mineola, NY 11501; e-mail: mniederman@winthrop.org


Financial/nonfinancial disclosures: The author has reported to CHEST that no potential conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2013;143(2):287-289. doi:10.1378/chest.12-2176
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In March 2011, a tsunami flooded numerous communities in the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan following an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude just off the Pacific coast. Six months later, >20,000 people were reported killed or missing. Immediately after the tsunami, physicians were called on to provide care to the survivors; certainly, nobody was prepared for the medical problems that followed. However, the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and Southeast Asia led to a careful description of a variety of medical problems related to trauma, near drowning, and subsequent pneumonia in the aftermath of this natural disaster, providing Japanese clinicians with information about what to expect in the weeks to come.1,2 Although blunt trauma and drowning accounted for deaths that immediately followed the Japanese tsunami, among survivors, traumatic injury, which was the most important early problem, was followed by infectious diseases in the next few weeks. These infections included communicable diseases as well as the respiratory complications of near drowning.3

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