How to Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect-Related Hazards After a Natural Disaster

General

  • Avoid wild or stray animals.
  • Call local authorities to handle animals.
  • Secure all food sources and remove any animal carcasses to avoid attracting rats.
  • Get rid of dead animals, according to guidelines from your local animal control authority, as soon as you can. For more, please read the Animal Disposal Following an Emergency Animal article.
  • For more information, contact your local animal shelter or services, a veterinarian, or the Humane Society for advice on dealing with pets or stray or wild animals after an emergency.

Avoid Mosquitoes

  • Rain and flooding in a hurricane area may lead to an increase in numbers of mosquitoes, which can carry diseases such as West Nile virus or dengue fever. In most cases, the mosquitoes will be pests but will not carry communicable diseases. Local, state, and federal public health authorities will be actively working to control the spread of any mosquito-borne diseases. For more information please read the West Nile Virus article.
  • To protect yourself from mosquitoes, use screens on dwellings; wear long pants, socks, and long-sleeved shirts; and use insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin. Follow directions on the product label and take care when using DEET on small children. More information about these and other recommended repellents please read the West Nile, Avoid Mosquito Bites to Avoid Infection and How to Choose Use Insect Repellents Safely articles.
  • To help control mosquito populations, drain all standing water left outdoors in open containers, such as flower pots, tires, pet dishes, or buckets.

Prevent or Respond to a Snake Bite

  • Be aware of snakes that may be swimming in the water to get to higher ground and those that may be hiding under debris or other objects.
  • If you see a snake, back away from it slowly and do not touch it.
  • If you or someone you know are bitten, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.
  • Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is poisonous. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services. Apply first aid if you can not get the person to the hospital right away.
    • Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
    • Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
    • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.

Source: Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov


Last Editorial Review: 9/7/2005