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Earthquake and Tsunami in Indonesia

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Key Points

  • Because of the recent earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia on September 28, travelers to the province of Central Sulawesi may experience serious health and safety risks, and medical care may not be available.
  • CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the province of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.
  • If you must travel to the area, protect yourself by following CDC’s recommendations (below).

What is the current situation?

Two recent natural disasters have caused severe damage, injuries, and deaths in the province of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. On September 28, 2018, earthquakes struck the Donggala region, the strongest a 7.4-magnitude earthquake. The earthquakes also triggered a tsunami wave that hit the Donggala and Mamuju regions and the city of Palu. The impact in Palu has been severe, while information regarding the impact of the tsunami in Donggala and Mamuju is yet to be confirmed.

In addition to safety hazards caused by debris and unstable buildings, there may be problems with sanitation, food supply, electricity, transportation, shelter, communications, security, and medical care. There are serious health and safety risks, medical care may not be available, and visitors could further strain limited local resources.

What can travelers do to protect themselves?

CDC recommends that US residents avoid all nonessential travel to the Central Sulawesi province in Indonesia. If you must travel to the area, protect yourself by following the health advice of CDC (below) before, during, and after your trip.

Before your trip:

  • Make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist or your health care provider to get needed vaccines and medicines, including vaccines against tetanus, hepatitis A, and seasonal flu. As a result of damaged infrastructure and compromised sanitation, the risk of 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 Advisory and Alerts for Indonesia.
  • 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.

During your trip:

  • Prevent illness and injury.
    • Deaths after a natural disaster are most often due to blunt trauma, crush-related injuries, and 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, Zika, and Japanese encephalitis are found in Indonesia.
    • Use insect repellent and wear protective clothing when outdoors, and sleep in air-conditioned or well-screened room or under insecticide-treated bed net.
  • 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 get 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. Wash out the wound and seek medical help immediately if you are bitten or scratched by an animal.
    • 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.
  • Avoid mold contamination.
    • If cleaning out a building damaged by flooding, wear protective clothing and PPE, such as gloves, goggles, and 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 parts of Indonesia, including in rural parts of Sulawesi.
  • 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.

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