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June 25, 1982

Epidemic Heat Effects

JAMA. 1982;247(24):3354-3355. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320490052037

Heatstroke (environmentally induced hyperpyrexia) afflicts unacclimatized, susceptible persons who are suddenly exposed to unusually hot conditions. Epidemics are likely to occur in large cities that experience cold winters and include foci of urban dwellings that have been aptly named "heat islands."1,2 Sporadic cases of heatstroke can occur under particularly provocative conditions, such as when infective pyrexia occurs in a person during the course of a heat wave, when dehydration occurs in persons lost in a hot desert,3 in physical training camps with rigorous discipline, and in hot industries.

Heat exhaustion (hypotension or relative hypovolemia produced or aggravated by hot environments) naturally occurs under similar conditions but is by no means confined to such circumstances. In mild degree, indeed, it is almost a universal occurrence.

Heat-aggravated disease must be considered when heat adds to the burden on body systems that are already disturbed by disease. An otherwise unexplained increase