The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean

Updated October 3, 2017

Updated: October 03, 2017

What should you know
Hurricane season in the Caribbean is from June to the end of November. Consult the National Hurricane Center for additional information on weather conditions.

In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept through the Caribbean, causing severe destruction. Countries affected include:

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint-Barthélemy, Turks and Caicos, United States (Florida Keys and Naples), US Virgin Islands.
Global Affairs Canada provides advice regarding travel to severely affected areas. Visit the country page of your destination for up-to-date information.

Many areas are flooded and inaccessible. Access to the following basic necessities may be limited:

food and water supply
health care
If you must travel to the affected areas, take action to reduce your personal risk.

How can you protect your health during your trip?
Before your trip:

All travellers should see a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before travel. Find a travel health clinic near you.

Make sure you are up-to-date with all of your routine vaccinations.
There may be other vaccines to consider for your travel to the Caribbean.
Pack a travel health kit and purchase travel health insurance.

During your trip:

Practise safe food and water precautions
Contaminated water and food may increase the risk of related diseases like:

travellers’ diarrhea
hepatitis A
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. Flooding and standing water increase the risk of insect-related diseases such as dengue, zika, chikungunya and malaria.

Avoid contact with all animals as they may carry rabies.

In some cases, your healthcare provider or travel clinic might recommend getting vaccinated against rabies before you travel.
If bitten or scratched, immediately clean the wound and seek medical attention.
Protect yourself against injury and illness:

Use caution around damaged buildings, downed power lines, water-affected electrical outlets, and interrupted gas lines.
Be cautious near moving water. Avoid standing, wading in or driving through moving water.
Avoid contact with flood or standing water that may be contaminated.
Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Keep your hands away from your face.
Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette.
Wear appropriate sturdy footwear in all disaster-affected areas.
Avoid contact with dead bodies.
Wear gloves:

when touching blood, body fluids, mucous membranes and broken skin
when handling anything that may have been soiled with blood and body fluids
when handling contaminated objects or surfaces (e.g. debris)
If you are travelling to the affected areas to support relief efforts (aid workers), protect yourself:

Use personal protective equipment as indicated by the coordinating relief organization. These may include gloves, gowns, safety glasses, boots, and hard hats.
After your trip:

Seek medical attention if you are injured, sick, or having trouble coping with stress after you return to Canada.

Tell your health care provider where you travelled.
What activities you participated in (e.g. disaster relief work)
Related links
Assistance – Sickness or Injury
Eat and drink safely
Insect bite prevention
Returning to Canada – If you get sick
Travel health kit
Other Resources
PAHO: Disasters

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Date modified: 2017-04-05