Which Diseases Are Common in Long-Term Disasters?

Which Diseases Are Common in Long-Term Disasters?


Floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes all cause immediate damage. But beyond the destroyed buildings and debris-strewn streets, a greater threat lurks: infectious diseases. Diseases thrive in disaster conditions. They’re spread by floodwaters, by unsanitary conditions, and by large numbers of displaced people living in close quarters.



Malaria is particularly common in areas affected by long-term flooding, since the floodwaters are an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. A bite from a mosquito infected with the malaria parasite can leave a person suffering from this severe, flu-like illness. Malaria often causes high fevers and shaking chills. In severe cases, it can be fatal.



Cholera is rare in industrialized nations like the U.S. It can thrive in less developed areas, particularly if the region has poor sanitation and unclean water. In the midst of a long-term disaster, such as the aftermath of a major earthquake, cholera is known to spread due to unsanitary conditions. Cholera occurs when the intestines are infected by a bacterium. This acute, diarrheal disease can cause profuse, watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. The most serious concern of cholera is the potential for rapid water loss, leading to dehydration and shock. This complication can kill quickly if not treated promptly.



Any number of disasters can result in unclean drinking water. One disease linked to unsafe drinking water is leptospirosis, a bacterial disease. Leptospirosis can be difficult to diagnose, since its symptoms may be mistaken for other illnesses. It causes a wide range of symptoms, including a high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Diarrhea, a rash, red eyes, and jaundice may also occur.



Balantidiasis is another disease spread by contaminated water. It can also occur in areas where pigs and humans live close to each other. If raising pigs is part of your long-term preparedness plans, take note of this particular risk and keep the pigs far away from your family’s drinking water. Balantidiasis can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and possibly intestinal perforation.


Beginning and veteran survivalists alike can turn to Handyman Plus. Based in Williston, ND, this company offers products and training services for those interested in long-term disaster preparation. You can get in touch at (701) 580-7694.