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Infectious diseases of severe weather-related and flood-related natural disasters

Ivers, Louise Ca,b,c; Ryan, Edward Tb,c,d

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: October 2006 - Volume 19 - Issue 5 - p 408–414
doi: 10.1097/01.qco.0000244044.85393.9e
Tropical and travel-associated diseases

Purpose of review The present review will focus on some of the possible infectious disease consequences of disastrous natural phenomena and severe weather, with a particular emphasis on infections associated with floods and the destruction of infrastructure.

Recent findings The risk of infectious diseases after weather or flood-related natural disasters is often specific to the event itself and is dependent on a number of factors, including the endemicity of specific pathogens in the affected region before the disaster, the type of disaster itself, the impact of the disaster on water and sanitation systems, the availability of shelter, the congregating of displaced persons, the functionality of the surviving public health infrastructure, the availability of healthcare services, and the rapidity, extent, and sustainability of the response after the disaster. Weather events and floods may also impact disease vectors and animal hosts in a complex system.

Summary Weather or flood-related natural disasters may be associated with an increased risk of soft tissue, respiratory, diarrheal, and vector-borne infectious diseases among survivors and responders.

aDivision of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

bDepartment of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston

cDivision of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

dDepartment of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Edward T. Ryan, MD, Tropical and Geographic Medicine Center Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital Jackson 504, 55 Fruit Street Boston, MA 02114, USA Tel: +1 617 726 6175; fax: +1 617 726 7416; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.