CDC to review medical records of military patients sickened by Red Hill fuel spills
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Hawaii looking at medical records of military families who got sick from the Red Hill fuel spill.
The site visit comes after the CDC’s own Red Hill surveys showed many participants reported worse health after the 2021 fuel spill, which contaminated the Navy’s drinking water system around Pearl Harbor.
SPECIAL SECTION: Red Hill Water Crisis
Whitney Trimble, chief of public affairs for Defense Health Agency Region Indo-Pacific, said the 11-member team is made up of toxicology and epidemiology experts and tasked with conducting a “HIPAA-compliant medical record review of patients experiencing long-term health effects that may be related to the Red Hill fuel spill.”
On Friday, at a National Guard public meeting on future water testing in Waiawa, state toxicoloigist Dr. Diana Felton was asked questions about the Red Hill contamination.
She says experts didn’t expect the symptoms to last long, but complaints of illness have lingered.
“The CDC team that is here is doing a complete review of the medical records,” she said.
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The military saw 6,000 patients during the disaster. Felton says the Defense Health Agency, which is in charge of the Red Hill Clinic, has seen roughly 50 people since it opened this year.
Former Pearl Harbor resident Army Maj. Amanda Feindt says she, her husband and two kids have taken 50 to 60 prescription medications since the 2021 fuels spills sickened their family.
She says they’ve been diagnosed with a slew of recent illnesses, including PTSD, gastrointestinal issues, neurological issues, pain and lung damage.
“We literally have been doctors for ourselves,” said Feindt.
She wants outside experts in Hawaii, but says Red Hill families need answers while they’re here.
“They continue to tell our families that they are being transparent with us, and here is another situation 15 months in, where they bring in these subject matter experts and they are looking at our military medical records and we as a community didn’t have a clue,” she said.
The Defense Health Agency says the CDC team will try to identify potential patterns of symptoms and health concerns and the findings will be posted on the CDC’s website at the conclusion of the study.
No date was given, but the Defense Health Agency says it anticipates the findings will improve clinical guidance.
“DHAR-IP anticipates using these findings to improve clinical guidance for the treatment of patients experiencing symptoms that may be related to exposure to petroleum contaminated water,” said Trimble.
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