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Tropical storms (cyclone/hurricane/typhoon)

Tropical storms (cyclone/hurricane/typhoon)

Last update: 2022-11-14

Key facts

Tropical storms can damage infrastructure and can cause injuries from high winds, storm surges, landslides and flooding.

Tropical storms can damage health facilities and interrupt services, impacting access to essential care.

Cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons are exacerbated by climate change.

Main health impacts

Health concern

Risk factors

Mental health consequences

  • Mental health impacts including (but not limited to) severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression may occur as a result of experiencing the trauma of a tropical storm (for example, homelessness; losing loved ones; loss of livelihood; etc.).

  • Experiencing multiple traumatic events can lead to compound or complex trauma.

Trauma (injury)

  • Landslides, flying debris, insufficient shelter etc. can lead to trauma, injury and exposure during tropical storms and in the immediate aftermath.

Diarrhoeal diseases

  • Contamination of water supply can be caused by flood water and by damaged or destroyed sanitation facilities.

  • Displacement or destroyed homes can lead to difficulty maintaining proper sanitation and hygiene practices which can lead to problems such as diarrhoeal diseases.

Vector-borne diseases and snake bites

  • Flood water and break-down in waste management and sanitation can lead to increased areas of stagnant water and can increase the risk of breeding sites for certain vectors.

  • Flooding also leads to displacement of different animals and insects. This includes venomous snakes. Snakes seeking food and shelter are more likely to come into close contact with humans, increasing the risk of venomous bites.

  • Other animals, such as rats, are also displaced and may come into closer contact with humans resulting in the spread of vector-borne diseases.

Respiratory illnesses, skin diseases and vaccine- preventable diseases    

  • Storms may lead to population displacement. Overcrowded, communal emergency shelters, coupled with difficulty maintaining proper sanitation and hygiene practices can lead to problems such as respiratory illnesses, skin diseases and some vaccine-preventable diseases.

Overall adverse health outcomes

  • Damage to health facilities and means of communication, power and stock disruptions and staff absenteeism limit access to all health care services from emergency care, maternal and child health services and essential care of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).