Health Concerns Due to Floodwater
Flooding in housing and industrial areas poses health risks through contamination of fresh water and living areas. The following points should be considered to reduce your personal health risks in areas affected by floodwater. This list is not comprehensive, but summarizes key points for your consideration
- Identification of clean and contaminated areas in-and-around houses to reduce the risk of spreading diseases.
- Use of bottled water for cleaning, food preparation and drinking.
- Decontamination of floors and walls affected by floodwater using disinfectant agents. Children should be kept away from these areas until adequate decontamination is performed.
- The washing and disinfection of toys and discarding of soft toys that may harbor bacteria and fungus/mould.
- Serious personal hygiene practices and thoroughly cleaning of toilets and showers with disinfectant.
- The safe disposal of food that has come into contact with floodwater.
- Avoiding consumption of uncooked vegetables.
- Proper covering and short-term storage of prepared food to avoid contamination by rodents and flies.
- Avoiding long-term storage of prepared food.
- Avoid dark corners and cupboards, as they may be refuge for rodents, insects and distressed domestic pets.
- The use of firm footwear with hard soles and good traction when walking through water, as holes and debris submerged under water must be anticipated.
Diseases and injuries associated with floods
Floodwater often contains pathogens and infectious materials that can cause the following diseases:
- Typhoid fever
- Dysentary (amebic, salmonella, shigellosis, campylobacter)
- Hepatitis A
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Contact dermatitis and skin infections
In addition, there is a higher risk of the following injuries when dealing with floodwater:
- Cuts and bruises from sharp articles and holes submerged under water
- Electric shock and burns
- Bites and stings from rodents and insects flooded out of their usual habitat
- Bites from distressed domestic pets
During the first month following the flood, cases of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever tend to increase. Vector control and prevention of mosquito bites are crucial during that time. Please see the pages on Malaria and Dengue Fever for more information.
If you have medical-related questions about living in Indonesia to ask of medical professionals, see Ask the Experts.
We trust this information will assist you in making correct choices regarding your health and welfare. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for personalized advice from your medical adviser.
Our appreciation to International SOS, an AEA Company who researched and contributed this article in response to an inquiries about floodwater-related health threats in Indonesia.