Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu
Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions
Released: March 26, 2015
Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu on March 14, 2015. Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific consisting of about 80 small islands. Record wind speeds of 185 miles (300 kilometers) per hour caused considerable devastation throughout the country. Although the airport is functioning normally, many of Vanuatu’s provinces are flooded and inaccessible. Significant infrastructure damage has caused problems with sanitation, food supply, electricity, transportation, shelter, communications, security, and medical care.
CDC recommends that travelers to Vanuatu take precautions to protect their health. For detailed information on safety and security, see the US Department of State’s security message for US citizens.
What can travelers do to protect themselves?
Before your trip:
- Talk to your doctor or nurse about vaccines and medicines recommended for Vanuatu.
- Pack a travel health kit.
- Humanitarian workers may need to pack additional items.
- Consider travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
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 stray or frightened animals. Seek medical help immediately if you are bitten or scratched by an animal and wash out the wound.
- Avoid driving through moving 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 bug bites:
Mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue, and chikungunya are found in Vanuatu.
- Follow food and water safety guidelines:
Water and food contamination can lead to illnesses such as typhoid fever and hepatitis A.
- Avoid flood water:
- Avoid swallowing flood waters or water from lakes, rivers, and swamps.
- Avoid wading in flooded areas, especially if you have any cuts or abrasions.
- Wear protective clothing, especially footwear, if you must wade in flood waters or other areas that might be contaminated.
- Talk to your health care provider about taking medicine to help prevent leptospirosis.
- Avoid mold contamination:
- If cleaning out a building destroyed by flooding, wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, goggles, and a tight-fitting approved N-95 respirator. Travelers should take sufficient PPE with them, as these may be scarce in Vanuatu.
- Keep hands, skin, and clothing clean and free from mold-contaminated dust.
- If you feel sick during your trip:
- Talk to a doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
- For more information about medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.
- Avoid contact with other people 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.
- If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.
- Malaria is always a serious disease and may be deadly. If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history.
- For more information, see Getting Sick after Travel.
- Natural Disasters & Environmental Hazards in CDC Health Information for International Travel -“Yellow Book”
- Hurricane Information for Health Care Professionals
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