Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean
Beginning on September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma crossed the Caribbean and caused severe damage in a number of countries and territories, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos, and the US Virgin Islands.
The extent of destruction across these countries and territories varies, with many areas flooded and inaccessible. Significant damage from the hurricane has caused problems with sanitation, food supply, electricity, transportation, shelter, communications, security, and medical care. US residents should postpone travel to severely affected areas because of serious health and safety risks, because medical care may be limited or unavailable, and to prevent further straining already limited local resources. Those who must travel, including those who are traveling for humanitarian aid work, should adhere to the following recommendations (more information).
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.
- Avoid driving through moving or standing 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
Mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya may be found in these areas. Travelers should take steps to prevent bug bites. (Malaria is also a risk in Haiti and parts of the Dominican Republic, so travelers should take medicine to prevent it.)
- Avoid swallowing floodwater or water from lakes, rivers, or swamps.
- Avoid wading in flooded areas, especially if you have any cuts or abrasions.
- Wear protective clothing, especially footwear, if you must wade in floodwater or other areas that might be contaminated.
- Natural Disasters & Environmental Hazards in CDC Health Information for International Travel -“Yellow Book”
- Safety Information for Health Care Professionals
- Page created: September 12, 2017
- Page last updated: September 13, 2017
- Page last reviewed: September 13, 2017
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