From late December through mid-January 2005, more than 200,000 people were affected by flooding due to historic rainfall in Guyana. The coastal areas from Mahaica to Georgetown were among the most severely affected. While the flood waters are reported to be receding, the flooding has caused basic services, including sanitation and health-care delivery, to be interrupted in the most affected areas.
The U.S. Department of State has issued advice to U.S. citizens intending to travel to Guyana. U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Guyana are advised to register online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/, or at the U.S. Embassy located at 100 Young and Duke Streets, telephone 011-592-225-4900 through 54909; fax 011-592-225-8497; or website http://georgetown.usembassy.gov/.
A febrile illness compatible with leptospirosis (a bacterial illness) has been reported in the population. The Ministry of Health is conducting an investigation and is distributing the antibiotic doxycycline (a tetracycline antibiotic that may be used for treatment and/or prophylaxis of leptospirosis) to those in the affected regions. Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) personnel are in Guyana providing epidemiologic and laboratory assistance to the Guyana Ministry of Health.
Flooding is a natural disaster that can cause many risks for international travelers. Flooding can frequently disrupt sanitation services and place travelers at risk for developing foodborne illnesses. Travelers should be aware that when sanitation has been disrupted, food and water precautions assume even more importance. By providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes, stagnant floodwater increases the opportunity for outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. Travelers to flood-affected countries should protect themselves against mosquito bites by wearing long pants, long sleeves, and hats and using mosquito repellent containing DEET. As most of Guyana is endemic for malaria, health-care providers should consider recommending doxycycline for malaria chemoprophylaxis to travelers to the region, as it would effectively prevent both malaria and leptospirosis.
Travelers returning from Guyana who are unwell for any reason or who develop only a fever ( for up to 1 year after return), should seek health care and inform the doctor about their travel. A directory of travel medicine physicians can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/travel_clinics.htm.
CDC is monitoring the situation closely. We recommend that travelers to the area visit the CDC Travelersí Health website (www.cdc.gov/travel/) and the U.S. Department of State website (http://www.state.gov) for further updates.