Floods are the most frequent type of natural disaster and occur when an overflow of water submerges land that is usually dry. Floods are often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid snow melt or a storm surge from a tropical cyclone or sunnami in coastal areas.

By Eyman Ashraf, Hafsa Yaqoob, Afshan Saleem, Taymia Hashme

The main cause of water borne diseases during flooding is the contamination of drinking water supply. Floods transport bacteria, parasites, viruses into clean water system thus leading to outbreak of waterborne disease.

Rainfall in Pakistan varies radically from year to year. The 3-month period from July to September is usually marked by heavy rainfall across the country. Along with depressions arising from Ray of Bengal, this affects the upper catchments of the major rivers, leading to extremely high flood peaks and generalized flooding. An average of 579,732 people is adversely affected by this phenomenon each year, putting Pakistan 9th in terms of flood -affected countries worldwide.

Pakistan is ranked 9th in terms of flood affected countries worldwide. In the summer of 2010, the northern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa received more than 312 mm of rain in a 56-hour period. This resulted in over 1600 deaths across the region. In addition, over 14 million people were directly affected by this record -breaking deluge.


Diarrhea, skin diseases and eye infections are spreading at relief camps setup by the government across the country. More than 90,000 diarrhea cases were reported from one of the worst -hit provinces, Sindh, in the past 24 hours, according to a report released by the health officials.


Health hazards by flood water and standing water

Floodwater and standing water can be threatening and can make you vulnerable to infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries.

Floodwaters contain many things that may harm health. Floodwater can contain:

  • Downed power lines
  • Human and livestock waste
  • Household, medical, and industrial precarious waste (chemical, biological, and radiological)
  • Other pollutants that can lead to disease.
  • Physical objects such as vehicles, and litter.
  • Wild or stray animals such as rodents and snakes

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can cause:

  • Wound infections
  • Skin rash
  • Gastrointestinal illness
  • Tetanus

Common disease watch during flood


  1. Typhoid fever.

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella Typhi. It is dispersed by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Contaminated water supply and poor hygiene throughout floods will increase the danger of enteric fever outbreaks.


Symptoms include a fever that increases Muscle aches, Fatigue, Sweating, Diarrhea or constipation

Vaccines are suggested for people who are traveling in areas where poor sanitation and contaminated water are common. The vaccine can be injected via a shot or taken orally for a number of days. Typhoid is treated with antibiotics.

  1. Cholera

Cholera is a transmissible diarrheal disease caused by ingestion of bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The bacteria cause severe watery diarrhea, which may cause dehydration and even death within hours if left untreated. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, which commonly occurs during floods, can increase the transmission of the unwellness

  Symptoms include Nausea. Vomiting, Diarrhea, Muscle cramps

 Cholera is a waterborne illness that’s simply prevented when traveling. Wash your hands often, only eat foods that are completely cooked and hot and only eat vegetables you will be able to peel yourself, like avocados, bananas, and oranges. Of course, drink safe water

  1. Dysentery

  An intestinal infection, dysentery is a waterborne disease characterized by severe diarrhea as         well as blood or mucosal secretion within the stool. Dysentery is good reason to continuously wash your hands, as the disease is spread mainly through poor hygiene. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites in unsafe food and water and by folks coming in contact with excretory products.

Symptoms includes Stomach cramps and pain, Diarrhea, Fever, Nausea, Vomiting, Dehydration

More severe cases are often treated with antibiotics, although some strains of the disease are resistant.

  1. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by intensely contaminated food and water or by coming in contact with someone who has the infection.

Symptoms include: Fatigue, Clay-colored bowel movements, Jaundice, Nausea and vomiting, Abdominal pain, particularly close to your liver, Loss of appetite, Sudden fever

The infection sometime goes away within a few weeks, but it’s possible that it can become severe and last several months.

The best way to prevent infectious hepatitis A is by getting the vaccine. Eat solely foods that are completely cooked and served hot, and avoid intake something at room temperature

  1. Dengue fever

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection caused by the dengue virus, which might result in a severe flu-like illness, sometimes causing a potentially lethal complication known as severe dengue. The virus is usually transmitted through the bite of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.  The spread of the dengue virus results in viremia, which indicates a high level of the virus within the blood. Severe dengue can be life-threatening within a few hours and often requires hospitalization.

symptoms of dengue are, fever with nausea, vomiting, rash and aches, pains in eyes, muscles, joints or bones.

 Use of insect repellents is suggested to avoid mosquito bites

  1. Malaria

Malaria is a grave communicable disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquito genus Anopheles mosquitoes.

 Symptoms include fever, tiredness, vomiting, headaches. In severe cases it will cause yellow skin, seizures, coma or death.

Following measures should take to prevent flooding and flood borne diseases:

  • Avoid exposure to floodwater if you have an open wound
  • If a wound develops redness, swelling, or oozing, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Wash your handsafter contact with floodwater. Also be sure to wash children’s hands with soap and water often and always before meals.
  • Do not drink flood water, or use it to wash dishes, brush teeth, or wash/prepare food. Drink clean, safe water.
  • Create a sponge city. Create flood plains and overflow areas for rivers
  • Separating rainwater from the sewer system. Keep the sewer system clean, so it can do its job
  • Install water filtration and attenuation systems
  • Sustainable drainage; permeable pavement, sidewalks and gardens
  • Improve flood warning mechanisms
  • Government should take actions to prevent Flooding.