Tropical Cyclone Idai – Aftermath

On 15th March 2019 this huge storm crossed land in central Mozambique near Beira City. Malawi and Eastern Zimbabwe were also severely affected. Travellers should be aware that apart from huge disruption to infrastructure and immediate loss of life, there are delayed infectious disease outbreaks that occur after natural disasters. These can often be predicted based on the nature and extent of the disaster, time of year and background infectious diseases occurring in the countries affected. For instance, all these countries have high background rates of typhoid and malaria, as well as being prone to intermittent cholera outbreaks. Typhoid and cholera are both diseases that thrive in areas of poverty and poor sanitation – obviously with extensive flooding there is a loss of safe drinking water and the local population, many of whom are already weak and malnourished, are more prone to contracting these food and waterborne diseases. Mosquito breeding also increases after extensive flooding, leading to an increased risk of malaria.
International organisations such as WHO ( World Health Organisation), are attempting to scale up a massive relief effort, including mass cholera vaccination of local populations, cholera treatment centres and the provision of mosquito nets to sleep under.
Any traveller to these regions in the wake of the disaster should seek advice from a travel health practitioner (well ahead of travel if possible), as well as keep up to date with the latest news and developments.