The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe

Warning – Level 3, Avoid Nonessential TravelAlert – Level 2, Practice Enhanced PrecautionsWatch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Key Points

  • Parts of MozambiqueMalawi, and Zimbabwe have been severely affected by Tropical Cyclone Idai.
  • US residents should avoid nonessential travel to Beira City and the surrounding area in Mozambique.
  • Travelers to other affected parts of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe should take steps to prevent illness and injury.

What is the current situation?

On March 14, 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira City in the central part of Mozambique. The storm caused heavy rains, strong winds, and severe flooding in Mozambique, as well as in neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe. Damage from the cyclone has caused problems with water and food supplies, sanitation, electricity, transportation, shelter, communications, security, medical care, and mosquito control. Contaminated drinking water and reduced access to safe water, food, and shelter in some areas may create conditions for outbreaks of infectious diseases.

At this time, CDC recommends that US residents avoid nonessential travel to Beira City and the surrounding area because serious health and safety risks may be present and medical care may be limited or unavailable. Postponing travel to these areas would also prevent further straining already limited local resources.

Travelers to other affected parts of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe should take steps to prevent illness and injury.

Before Your Trip

  • Make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist or your health care provider to get needed vaccines and medicines, including malaria prophylaxis and vaccines against tetanus, hepatitis A, and seasonal flu. As a result of damaged infrastructure and compromised sanitation, the risk of injury and infectious diseases is increased after a natural disaster.
  • Pack a travel health kit with your prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines (enough to last your whole trip, plus a little extra), first aid supplies, and your health insurance card.
    • Authorized humanitarian aid workers may need to pack additional items, including personal protective equipment (PPE), which may be scarce at their destination.
  • Monitor the Department of State’s Travel Advisories.
  • Prepare for the unexpected.
    • Leave copies of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home, in case they are lost during travel.
    • Buy travel health and medical evacuation insurance. If you are injured or get sick during your trip, medical care is likely to be unavailable in these areas.

During Your Trip

  • Prevent illness and injury.
    • Deaths after a natural disaster are most often due to blunt trauma, crush-related injuries, or drowning.
    • Use caution around downed power lines, water-affected electrical outlets, and interrupted gas lines.
    • Avoid driving through moving water.
    • Avoid direct contact with human remains. (If you are a relief worker helping with human remains, see the Interim Health Recommendations for Workers Who Handle Human Remains after a Disaster.)
  • Avoid bug bites.
    • Diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as malaria, are found in these areas.
    • Use insect repellent and wear protective clothing when outdoors, and sleep in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or under insecticide-treated bed nets.
  • Follow food and water safety guidelines.
  • Avoid floodwater.
    • Avoid swallowing floodwater or water from lakes, rivers, and swamps. During and after a disaster, water can become contaminated with bacteria, sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals, and other things that can cause illness or death.
    • Avoid wading in flooded areas, especially if you have any cuts or abrasions. If a cut becomes red, swells, or oozes, seek immediate medical attention.
    • Wear protective clothing, especially footwear, if you must wade in floodwater or other areas that might be contaminated.
  • Avoid animal exposures.
    • Avoid stray or frightened animals. If you are bitten or scratched, wash out the wound and seek medical help immediately.
    • Rescuing stray dogs or cats poses potential health hazards to both humans and animals. Dogs and cats imported to the United States must meet CDC requirements and those of other federal agencies.
  • Avoid mold contamination.
    • If cleaning out a building damaged by flooding, wear protective clothing and equipment, such as gloves, goggles, and a fit-tested N95 respirator.
    • For more information, see CDC’s Mold website.
If you feel sick during your trip—
  • Get medical care if you are injured or sick, especially if you have a fever.
    • Some diseases, such as leptospirosis, can be treated with antibiotics but can be fatal if left untreated.
    • A fever may indicate malaria, which is a risk in these areas.
  • If you get a cut or wound, wash it out, cover it with a bandage, and see a health care provider if it looks like it’s becoming infected.
  • For more information about medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.
  • Avoid contact with other people and do not travel while you are sick.

After Your Trip

  • If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.
  • If you are having a hard time coping after your trip, you may need to see a mental health professional. See Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event.
  • For more information, see Getting Sick after Travel.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information