CDC is a federal public health agency under
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Assessment of Health Complaints Among Children
Living in FEMA Temporary Housing Units
in Hancock County, Mississippi
The Mississippi State Department of Health asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do a study
after Hancock County doctors reported an increase in breathing problems among children living in FEMA-issued
trailers and mobile homes following Hurricane Katrina.
What CDC found
CDC found that the patterns of health care visits for respiratory illness after Hurricane Katrina were similar for children
who lived in FEMA-issued trailers and mobile homes and those who did not.
The proportion of health care visits for upper respiratory illnesses decreased and the proportion of health care visits
for lower respiratory illnesses increased in the second year after Hurricane Katrina compared with the year before the
hurricane for both groups of children. CDC did not have enough information to determine the reason for this change.
Because of evacuations and the closure of health care facilities, children’s visits for all illnesses potentially related to
indoor air quality went down the first year after the hurricane. By the second year, however, they had returned to pre-
What this study can and cannot tell us
These findings only apply to the children of Hancock County, Mississippi who visited the health care facilities studied.
They also do not tell CDC anything about children outside Hancock County. Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of
electronic and print medical records. This limited CDC’s research efforts and made it impossible to estimate how often
children visited health care facilities for all of Hancock County. CDC also could not account for factors influencing
families’ decisions to return, or not to return, to the county within 2 years after the hurricane.
Where the study was done
CDC based its findings on an investigation of chi