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Cyclone Idai Increases Transmission of Infectious Diseases in Southern Africa

18 Apr 2019

On the 10 April 2019 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and ControlLink published a rapid risk assessment in relation to infectious diseases that have occurred and may occur in the aftermath of the tropical cyclone Idai.

Cyclone Idai developed on 9 March 2019 and by mid-March 2019 was estimated to have affected two million people in three countries:

The associated heavy rains, strong winds and flooding has led to several hundred fatalities, hundreds of thousands of displaced people and an upsurge of infectious diseases outbreaks such as cholera and malaria.

Displaced people face increased risk of infectious diseases for numerous reasons:

  • inability to access safe food and water
  • lack of adequate sanitation
  • overcrowding increasing disease transmission, for example,  acute respiratory infections
  • difficulty accessing health care for assessment and treatment due to damaged healthcare infrastructure
  • increased transmission of vector-borne diseases such as malaria due to increases in mosquito-breeding sites

Advice for Travellers

The overall risk to EU travellers or residents in affected countries is considered very low providing they implement appropriate risk management interventions.

Individual country pages should be checked to determine advisable vaccinations, malaria chemoprophylaxis and appropriate risk management advice.