Flooding and Infectious Disease in Rural Children: Can Intervention Mitigate Predicted Increases in Disease Burden? (pp. 393-404)
Authors: Colleen Lau and Philip Weinstein
Abstract: Flooding has the potential to trigger disease outbreaks from the sudden and severe disruption to both natural and built environments. As a result of global climate change, extreme weather events such as flooding are predicted to occur with increasing frequency and intensity. Populations at particularly high risk include those who live in areas prone to natural disasters, vulnerable groups such as children, and communities with poor resources to cope with additional stresses. In this paper we examine the mechanisms by which flooding can increase the risk of a wide range of infectious diseases, with particular focus on the high vulnerability of children who live in rural areas. The potential long-term significance of these infections, the importance of ongoing disease surveillance post-disaster, and the current gaps in knowledge regarding the long-term health impacts of natural disasters are also discussed. It is essential to improve public health infrastructure, enhance surveillance systems, encourage research on the immediate and long-term health impact of natural disasters, improve our understanding of the environmental drivers of disease emergence, and build capacity to cope with the increasing threats of infectious disease as a result of environmental and climate change.