Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
- Parts of the Bahamas, including the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island, have been severely affected by Hurricane Dorian.
- US residents should avoid nonessential travel to affected parts of the Bahamas.
- Travelers who must travel to affected parts of the Bahamas should take steps to prevent illness and injury by being sensitive to possible physical dangers including debris, unstable buildings, moving water, and downed power lines, and exposure to diseases.
What is the current situation?
On September 2, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas. The storm caused heavy rains, strong winds, and severe flooding. Damage from the hurricane has caused problems with water supply, sanitation, food supply, 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 affected parts of the Bahamas. 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. This recommendation will be updated as information becomes available.
If you must travel to the Bahamas—
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 Advisories.
- US citizens should enroll online in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates and information about assistance in an emergency.
- 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 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 carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and other risks after the storm
- CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled. When power outages occur during natural disasters and other emergencies, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper and poison the people and animals inside.
- To prevent CO poisoning, use generators, pressure washers, grills, and similar items outdoors only. Generators should be used at least 20 feet away from a building.
- Avoid bug bites.
- Diseases spread by mosquitoes are found in the Bahamas.
- 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. Water and food contamination can lead to illness such as typhoid fever and hepatitis A.
- 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.
- 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 a respirator as described in this document:
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.
- 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. For more information, see Getting Sick after Travel.
- 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.
- Humanitarian Aid Workers in CDC Health Information for International Travel -“Yellow Book”