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Heat causes surge in hospital visits, fatal to some pets

'In a normal month we get zero heat-related illnesses, but in the last two months we've had double digit numbers,' Dr. Ilya Aylyarov says
Posted at 6:41 PM, Jul 09, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A heat advisory that was issued in South Florida continued into Tuesday, as a combination of heat and humidity made it feel like 105+ degrees.

"That's one of our biggest concerns as any parent is a player dropping on the field because of the heat," said Ashley Miller. "I believe yesterday we clocked 93 degrees at the high point of the day but if feels easily over 100 degrees."

Her family is in Brevard County watching her son play at the Easton Elite World Series for travel baseball. She said players have been hydrating but people in the stands felt the heat.

"Yesterday we saw several people dropping like flies and ambulances had to cart them out into the hospital, because of dehydration," said Miller.

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Ashley Miller says people started passing out during the Easton Elite World Series in Brevard County.

It's an issue as HCA Florida JFK Hospital in Atlantis said they've seen a surge of heat-related calls.

"In a normal month we get zero heat-related illnesses, but in the last two months we've had double digit numbers," said Dr. Ilya Aylyarov, MD.

He said heat illnesses can include anything from heat cramps, heat fainting, heat exhaustion to heat stroke which Aylyaro said mortality rate is 30%.

"Once we start seeing evidence of any heat related illness we need to act quickly and aggressively," said Aylyarov.

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Dr. Ilya Aylyarov says heat related illness needs to be treated quickly and aggressively.

Symptoms he said include cramping, dehydration, light-headedness or fainting. More severe symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and confusion. The majority of the cases he said he's seen have been outdoor workers and elderly people that live in South Florida but don't have air-conditioning.

"If you start to feel any symptoms that feel abnormal to you need to get out of the outdoors, get somewhere where there's air-conditioning," said Aylyarov. "You can start cooling using cool damp towels to start cooling off but if those aren't helpful you need to see a physician immediately."

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said from June 24 to July 8, units were dispatched to exposure calls 16 times.

How does heat impact pets?

Lantana Atlantis Animal Hospital (LAAH) also said animals have been impacted by the heat.

"It's a little bit hotter than years past, so we've seen a few calls and a few tragedies, because of heat stroke," said Fallyn Reynolds, the office manager with LAAH.

She said they've seen an entire summer's worth of heat issues in a matter of weeks. Reynolds said recently a client had taken their American Bulldog out for a walk to play in the park but suffered a heat stroke and passed away.

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Lantana Atlantis Animal Hospital office manager Fallyn Reynolds says animals are also impacted by the heat, even when it appears they're having fun outside.

"I mean that's horrible for anybody," said Reynolds. "You go to the park expecting to have this fun day playing with your dog and you don't realize that their body can't handle it, even if they're having fun with you."

She said symptoms of heat stroke can take days, sometimes week to set in.

Those include excessive drinking, lethargy, panting, and acting out of character.

How to protect your pets from the heat?

She said if your dog is experiencing signs of a heat stroke make sure to cool them down with cold water and bring them indoors as soon as possible.

Problem breeds she said are the ones with short snouts: American bulldogs, pit bulls, French bulldogs and pugs.

"Don't take your dogs outside in the middle of the day, at all. Take them as early as you can, take them as late as you can," said Reynolds. "Just make sure that you are giving them enough water, that they are staying cool, hydrated, make sure that their paws are staying off the burning hot asphalt and they're going on the grass."

The heat advisories could be issued into the week.