Evaluation of the morbidity and mortality of animals post Canterbury earthquakes – A Pilot study

Disasters such as floods, fires, snow storms, earthquakes and tsunamis have contributed to a significant number of human and animal deaths and injuries in New Zealand in recent years. These events have highlighted the importance of the use of specific disaster risk and impact modelling to inform the mitigation tools such as developing appropriate building regulations, facilitating decision making on urban developments and assisting with response and recovery processes.

Despite this development there has been little scientific research on how disasters affect animals; therefore there is a lack of understanding on how to mitigate hazards and risks that could, in turn, reduce morbidity and mortality of animals.

Ms Kate Hill, Senior Lecturer at Massey University
Ms Kate Hill, Senior Lecturer at Massey University

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference warmly thanks Ms Kate Hill, Senior Lecturer at Massey University for presenting this seminar at the last conference in May at Mercure Brisbane.  Ms Hill discussed the aim of her study which was to evaluate how disasters affect the health of animals immediately, short-term and medium-term post disaster using the recent Canterbury earthquakes as a case study.  The outputs from the study will be used in earthquake (along with other disasters) risk and impact models to develop mitigation measures for animal welfare during disasters.

The pilot study was a retrospective cohort review of patient visits from 5 functional veterinary clinics within and surrounds of the worst affected areas in Canterbury region. Data was collected from the 7 month period before the September 4th 2010 earthquake through to January 2013. The veterinary visits were coded into 3 different categories: Gastro-intestinal, renal, & euthanasia. A time-series analysis was performed on data collected.

From experience of past disasters, the deployment of the Veterinary Emergency Response team to assess animal welfare during the February earthquake and anecdotal evidence, it is expected that there will be a significant mortality and morbidity rates amongst production and companion animals. The expectation is an increase in the number of animals presented to veterinary clinics with underlying diseases / conditions that were exacerbated by the earthquake events in Christchurch due to environmental contamination along with crushing injuries sustained as a direct result of the earthquake and subsequent after shocks.

This and many other presentations from the 2013 Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference are available by podcast on our website or by clicking here.  The 2014 conference dates and venue are set – check out the website to see more details!