The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Flooding in South Asia

Updated October 3, 2017

Since the monsoon season began in August 2017, widespread flooding in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal has affected more than 40 million people. The floods have damaged crops and livestock, destroyed more than 100,000 homes, and caused more than 1,200 deaths.

Water is still waist-deep in some areas, and more rain is expected. Monsoon season typically lasts through September.

National governments are working with United Nations agencies and humanitarian organizations to help those affected by flooding. More than 1 million people are living in relief camps.

The extent of destruction across these countries differs, but all three countries are having problems with sanitation, food supply, electricity, transportation, shelter, communications, security, and medical care. US residents should postpone travel to affected areas. There are serious health and safety risks, medical care may not be available, and visitors could further strain limited local resources. Those who must travel, including those who are traveling for humanitarian aid work, should adhere to the recommendations below.

Prevent illness and injury

Use caution around downed power lines, water-affected electrical outlets, and interrupted gas lines.
Avoid stray or frightened animals. Seek medical help immediately if you are bitten or scratched by an animal, and wash out the wound.
Avoid driving through moving or standing water.
Avoid direct contact with dead bodies (human remains), body fluids, and human waste. (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
Illnesses that are spread by mosquitoes, such as malaria, Zika, dengue, and chikungunya, may be found in these areas. Travelers should take steps to prevent bug bites and take prescription medicine to prevent malaria, if recommended by your health care provider.

Follow food and water safety guidelines
Avoid consuming contaminated water and food, which can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other, more serious, illnesses (see “Food and Water Safety”).

Avoid floodwater

Floodwater could contain sewage, debris, and other hazards, so it is important to:

Avoid swallowing floodwater or water from lakes, rivers, or swamps.
Avoid wading in flooded areas, especially if you have any cuts or scratches.
Wear protective clothing, especially footwear, if you must wade in floodwater or other areas that might be contaminated. Rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles are recommended.
Traveler Information

Information for Humanitarian Aid Workers
Clinician Information

Advising Humanitarian Aid Workers in CDC Health Information for International Travel -“Yellow Book”
Safety Information for Health Care Professionals
Yellow Fever & Malaria Information, by Country in CDC Health Information for International Travel -“Yellow Book”
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Page created: September 15, 2017
Page last updated: September 15, 2017
Page last reviewed: September 15, 2017
Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ)