Ciottone's Disaster Medicine (Third Edition): 59 - Infectious Disease in a Disaster Zone

Elsevier, Ciottone's Disaster Medicine (Third Edition) 2024, Pages 388-392
Stephanie Chow Garbern

Populations affected by natural and human-made disasters often face conditions conducive to the rapid spread of infectious diseases. In the wake of a disaster, communities may be displaced from their homes to overcrowded shelters or settlements with disrupted access to safe water, proper sanitation facilities, and adequate health care services. All disaster types, regardless of whether the disaster is natural (hurricane, tsunami, flood, earthquake, etc.) or human-made (war, conflict, industrial accident, etc.), may increase the risk of infectious disease outbreaks. For all disasters, a comprehensive risk assessment should be conducted to properly allocate resources and prioritize interventions to reduce the potential harm caused by infectious diseases. Infectious diseases associated with disasters include water-borne diseases (e.g., diarrheal diseases, hepatitis), diseases associated with overcrowding (e.g., measles, acute respiratory infections, tuberculosis), vector-borne diseases (e.g., malaria, dengue fever, typhoid fever), and infections due to traumatic injuries (e.g., tetanus). Examples of infectious disease outbreaks after recent disasters are provided with an emphasis on strategies to avoid similar outbreaks in future disasters. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a background understanding and framework to aid in the prevention, identification, and control of infectious diseases in disaster zone