Singaporeans should continue to strictly observe the exclusion zone of 20 km around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and the areas designated by the Japanese Government as "Deliberate Evacuation Area"
Have there been confirmed reports of cases of radiation sickness due to travel to Japan?
To date, there has been no reported case of any Singaporean with radiation sickness due to travel to Japan. Medical practitioners have been informed to refer suspected cases of radiation sickness which are associated with travel to Japan to the public hospitals for assessment and management. Confirmed cases will be notified to MOH. Singaporeans visiting Japan are encouraged to read the Travel Notice to Japan at http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/consular_information/for_singapore_citizens/travel_notices/2012/jul/travelnotice_20120726.html.
What are the symptoms of radiation sickness?
People who have been exposed to radiation will get radiation sickness, which is also known as Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS), only if:• The radiation dose was high (doses from diagnostic medical procedures such as chest X-rays are too low to cause ARS);• The radiation was penetrating (that is, able to reach internal organs)• The person’s entire body, or most of it, received the dose, and• The radiation was received in a short time, usually within minutes.The first symptoms of radiation sickness (or ARS), typically are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
These symptoms will start within minutes to days after the exposure and can last for minutes up to several days, and may come and go. The affected person usually looks and feels healthy for a short time, after which he or she will become sick again with loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and possibly even fits and coma. This seriously ill stage may last from a few hours up to several months.
People with ARS typically also have some skin damage. This damage can start to show within a few hours after exposure and can include swelling, itching, and redness of the skin (like a bad sunburn). There can also be hair loss. As with the other symptoms, the skin may heal for a short time, followed by the return of swelling, itching, and redness days or weeks later. Complete healing of the skin may take from several weeks up to a few years depending on the radiation dose the person’s skin received.
Persons who develop ARS following radiation exposure can receive medical assistance at the Emergency Departments of the following Public Restructured Hospitals (RH):
• Alexandra Hospital• Singapore General Hospital (SGH)• Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)• National University Hospital (NUH)• Changi General Hospital (CGH)• Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH)• KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) (for children & pregnant women)
Internal exposure may result from breathing in or swallowing radioactive material or through contamination of wounds.
External exposure happens when a person is exposed to external sources, such as external beam radiotherapy for cancer treatment, or when radioactive material (e.g. dust, liquid, aerosols) becomes attached to skin or clothes. External contamination on skin or clothes can often be washed off.
Risk estimates derived from various Chernobyl studies include a 3.2 fold increase in thyroid cancers in women < 60 yrs 10 years after exposure, and a 5-10 fold increase in childhood thyroid cancer.