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No Calm After the Storm: A Systematic Review of Human Health Following Flood and Storm Disasters

  • Dell D. Saulnier (a1), Kim Brolin Ribacke (a1) and Johan von Schreeb (a1)
Abstract Introduction

How the burden of disease varies during different phases after floods and after storms is essential in order to guide a medical response, but it has not been well-described. The objective of this review was to elucidate the health problems following flood and storm disasters.


A literature search of the databases Medline (US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, Maryland USA); Cinahl (EBSCO Information Services; Ipswich, Massachusetts USA); Global Health (EBSCO Information Services; Ipswich, Massachusetts USA); Web of Science Core Collection (Thomson Reuters; New York, New York USA); Embase (Elsevier; Amsterdam, Netherlands); and PubMed (National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, Maryland USA) was conducted in June 2015 for English-language research articles on morbidity or mortality and flood or storm disasters. Articles on mental health, interventions, and rescue or health care workers were excluded. Data were extracted from articles that met the eligibility criteria and analyzed by narrative synthesis.


The review included 113 studies. Poisonings, wounds, gastrointestinal infections, and skin or soft tissue infections all increased after storms. Gastrointestinal infections were more frequent after floods. Leptospirosis and diabetes-related complications increased after both. The majority of changes occurred within four weeks of floods or storms.


Health changes differently after floods and after storms. There is a lack of data on the health effects of floods alone, long-term changes in health, and the strength of the association between disasters and health problems. This review highlights areas of consideration for medical response and the need for high-quality, systematic research in this area.

Saulnier DD , Brolin Ribacke K , von Schreeb J . No Calm After the Storm: A Systematic Review of Human Health Following Flood and Storm Disasters. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(5):568579.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence: Dell Saulnier, Msc Widerströmska huset, Plan 4 Tomtebodavägen 18a 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden E-mail:
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Conflicts of interest/funding: The authors were funded by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Stockholm, Sweden) while writing this paper. The funders had no role in the design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or writing of the manuscript.

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Total number of PDF views: 703 *
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Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1333 *
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* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 13th June 2017 - 23rd March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.