BACKGROUND. On 11 November 1994, 26 preadolescent girls, 2 adult supervisors and 7 dogs were sleeping in a tent in rural South Africa
when the tent was struck by lightning. Four of the girls and 4 of the dogs were killed. The 2 adults were unharmed, but all but 3 of the
children suffered significant injuries. An article in 2002 detailed the event and examined the medical and psychological changes in the
OBJECTIVE. To understand the medical and psychological changes secondary to lightning strike years after injury.
METHODS. An online questionnaire was prepared that included a checklist of physical and psychological symptoms. Participants were asked
to report on both initial and current symptoms. Eleven of the 22 survivors were contacted, and 10 completed the survey.
RESULTS. Participants reported that initial physical symptoms generally resolved over time, with ~10 - 20% continuing to experience physical
symptoms. Vision problems persisted in 50% of respondents. Psychological symptoms, overall, had a later onset and were more likely to
be chronic or currently experienced. Depression and anxiety, specifically, were higher among the survivors than the reported incidence in
CONCLUSIONS. Initial and current/chronic physical and psychological symptoms following lightning strike are reported, adding to the
body of literature on the long-term after-effects of lightning strike on survivors. A brief discussion on post-traumatic stress disorder
symptomatology and post-lightning shock syndrome is provided.
The original work and meticulous documentation of the lightning incident
by Carte et al. needs to be acknowledged. We would also like to thank
Dr Christopher Andrews for sharing his symptoms questionnaire from
his 1989 long-term telephone lightning injury survey. The authors would
also like to acknowledge and thank the respondents for making themselves
available for this study. We are acutely aware of the courage it must have
taken to re-confront this tragic incident 19 years later.