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Clean Water, Shelter Among Top Health Concerns Following a Tsunami

STR/AFP/Getty Images. Tsunami tidal waves move upstream in the Naka river at Hitachinaka city in Ibaraki prefecture in Japan.(ATLANTA) -- After a tsunami hits, like the one that struck the northeastern coast of Japan Friday following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the primary public health concerns are providing survivors with clean drinking water, food, shelter, and medical attention for any injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flooding spurred by tsunamis can contaminate water and food supplies, posing a risk to people's health.  Furthermore, the giant waves can displace people from their homes, leaving them susceptible to insect exposure, heat, and several other environmental hazards.

Although the majority of deaths that result from tsunamis are related to drownings, the CDC says victims can be inflicted with many injuries, such as broken limbs and trauma to the head, as they are washed into debris and rubble left behind from the environmental disaster.  It is imperative that people be treated for these injuries before they worsen, especially in areas where not many medical resources exist.

It is not yet known how many people have been affected by the massive tsunami that hit Japan Friday, but the death toll is expected to be well into the hundreds. The full impact of the quake will be better known Saturday once daylight hits the region.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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