Floods and Foods as Potential Carriers of Disease Between Urban and Rural Areas

  • Gia Thanh NguyenEmail author
  • Jian Pu
  • Toru Watanabe


Flood is one of the most common natural disasters which affect human life around the world. Floods not only threaten people’s lives, but they also bring additional risks for diseases resulted from exposure to contaminated floodwater. This chapter reviews the literature on the impact of floods on human health, demonstrating the significance of indirect route of exposure in health risk management, mainly via food contamination induced by floods, as well as direct exposure route (i.e., intake of contaminants in floodwater). Based on the literature review, we hypothesize that floods and foods play important roles as potential carriers of disease or health risk agents between urban and rural areas.


Flood Food Health risk Rural Urban 


  1. 1.
    Aavitsland P, Iversen BG, Krogh T et al (1996) Infections during the 1995 flood in Ostlandet. Prevention and incidence. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 116(17):2038–2043Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Abaya SW, Mandere N, Ewald G (2009) Floods and health in Gambella region, Ethiopia: a qualitative assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of coping mechanisms. Glob Health Action 2(1)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Aggarwal R, Krawczynski K (2000) Hepatitis E: an overview and recent advances in clinical and laboratory research. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 15(1):9–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Albering HJ, van Leusen SM, Moonen EJ et al (1999) Human health risk assessment: a case study involving heavy metal soil contamination after the flooding of the river Meuse during the winter of 1993–1994. Environ Health Perspect 107(1):37–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Barcellos C, Sabroza PC (2001) The place behind the case: leptospirosis risks and associated environmental conditions in a flood-related outbreak in Rio de Janeiro. Cadernos de saude publica 17:59–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bharti AR, Nally JE, Ricaldi JN et al (2003) Leptospirosis: a zoonotic disease of global importance. Lancet Infect Dis 3(12):757–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cairncross S, Alvarinho M (2006) The Mozambique floods of 2000: health impact and response. In: Few R, Matthies F (eds) Flood hazards and health: responding to present and future risks. Earthscan, London, pp 111–127Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Campanella N (1999) Infectious diseases and natural disasters: the effects of hurricane Mitch over Villanueva municipal area Nicaragua. Public Health Rev 27(4):311–319Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cann KF, Thomas DR, Salmon RL et al (2013) Extreme water-related weather events and waterborne disease. Epidemiol Infect 141(04):671–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Carrera L, Standardi G, Bosello F et al (2015) Assessing direct and indirect economic impacts of a flood event through the integration of spatial and computable general equilibrium modelling. Environ Model Softw 63:109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Casteel MJ, Sobsey MD, Mueller JP (2006) Fecal contamination of agricultural soils before and after hurricane-associated flooding in North Carolina. J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng 41(2):173–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Castro-Ibáñez I, Gil MI, Tudela JA et al (2015) Microbial safety considerations of flooding in primary production of leafy greens: a case study. Food Res Int 68:62–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ceuppens S, Hessel CT, Rodrigues Rd Q et al (2014) Microbiological quality and safety assessment of lettuce production in Brazil. Int J Food Microbiol 181:67–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Corwin AL, Tien NT, Bounlu K et al (1999) The unique riverine ecology of hepatitis E virus transmission in South-East Asia. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 93(3):255–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    De Man H, van den Berg HHJL, Leenen EJTM et al (2014) Quantitative assessment of infection risk from exposure to waterborne pathogens in urban floodwater. Water Res 48(1):90–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Donnison A, Ross C (2009) Survival and retention of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and campylobacter in contrasting soils from the Toenepi catchment. N Z J Agric Res 52(2):133–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Du W, FitzGerald GJ, Clark M et al (2010) Health impacts of floods. Prehosp Disaster Med 25(3):265–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    EM-DAT (2016) Disaster Profiles.2016. The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database. Accessed 9 Aug 2016
  19. 19.
    Easton A (1999) Leptospirosis in Philippine floods. Br Med J 319(7204):212Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    European Environmental Agency (2010) Mapping the impacts of natural hazards and technological accidents in Europe an overview of the last decade. Accessed 15 June 2016
  21. 21.
    FAO/WHO (2008) Viruses in food: scientific advice to support risk management activities. Meeting report. Microbiological risk assessment series 13. Accessed 10 July 2016
  22. 22.
    Fenske C, Helmut W, Alexander B et al (2001) The consequences of the Odra flood (summer 1997) for the Odra lagoon and the beaches of Usedom: what can be expected under extreme conditions? Int J Hyg Environ Health 203(5–6):417–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Feyen L, Dankers R, Bódis K et al (2012) Fluvial flood risk in Europe in present and future climates. Clim Chang 112(1):47–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gelting RJ, Baloch MA, Zarate-Bermudez MA et al (2011) Irrigation water issues potentially related to the 2006 multistate E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with spinach. Agric Water Manag 98(9):1395–1402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Godfree A, Godfrey S (2008) Water reuse criteria: environmental and health risk based standards and guidelines. In: Jimenez B, Asano T (eds) Water reuse – an international survey of current practice, issues and needs. IWA Publishing, London, pp p351–p372Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Greenough G, McGeehin M, Bernard SM et al (2001) The potential impacts of climate variability and change on health impacts of extreme weather events in the United States. Environ Health Perspect 109(2):191–198Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Haque A, Jahan S (2015) Impact of flood disasters in Bangladesh: a multi-sector regional analysis. Int J Disaster Risk Reduct 13:266–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hau CH, Hien TT, Tien NT et al (1999) Prevalence of enteric hepatitis A and E viruses in the Mekong River delta region of Vietnam. Am J Trop Med Hyg 60(2):277–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hilscherova K, Kurunthachalam K, Nakata H et al (2003) Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin and dibenzofuran concentration profiles in sediments and flood-plain soils of the Tittabawassee River, Michigan. Environ Sci Technol 37(3):468–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hoang MT, Watanabe T, Fukushi K, Ono A, Nakajima F, Yamamoto K (2011) Quantitative risk assessment of infectious diseases caused by waterborne Escherichia coli during floods in cities of developing countries. J Jpn Soc Water Environ 34(10):153–159 in JapaneseCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Huang LY, Wang YC, Wu CC et al (2016) Risk of flood-related diseases of eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract in Taiwan: a retrospective cohort study. PLoS One 11(5):e0155166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kawasaki A, Arao T, Ishikawa S (2012) Reducing cadmium content of rice grains by means of flooding and a few problems. Nihon Eiseigaku Zasshi 67(4):478–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kazama S, Aizawa T, Watanabe T et al (2012) A quantitative risk assessment of waterborne infectious disease in the inundation area of a tropical monsoon region. Sustain Sci 7(1):45–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kondo H, Seo N, Yasuda T et al (2002) Post-flood–infectious diseases in Mozambique. Prehosp Disaster Med 17(3):126–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kunii O, Nakamura S, Abdur R et al (2002) The impact on health and risk factors of the diarrhoea epidemics in the 1998 Bangladesh floods. Public Health 116(2):68–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lake IR, Foxall CD, Fernandes A et al (2014) The effects of river flooding on dioxin and PCBs in beef. Sci Total Environ 491-492:184–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lake IR, Foxall CD, Fernandes A et al (2015) The effects of flooding on dioxin and PCB levels in food produced on industrial river catchments. Environ Int 77:106–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Le Guyader FS, Le Saux JC, Ambert-Balay K et al (2008) Aichi virus, norovirus, astrovirus, enterovirus, and rotavirus involved in clinical cases from a French oyster-related gastroenteritis outbreak. J Clin Microbiol 46(12):4011–4017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Liem AK, Fürst P, Rappe C (2000) Exposure of populations to dioxins and related compounds. Food Addit Contam 17(4):241–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Liu C, Hofstra N, Franz E (2013) Impacts of climate change on the microbial safety of pre-harvest leafy green vegetables as indicated by Escherichia coli O157 and Salmonella spp. Int J Food Microbiol 163(2–3):119–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Liu ZD, Li J, Zhang Y et al (2016) Distributed lag effects and vulnerable groups of floods on bacillary dysentery in Huaihua, China. Sci Rep 6:29456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Malilay J (1997) Floods. In: Noji EK (ed) The public health consequences of disasters. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 287–301Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    McCarthy MC, He J, Hyams KC et al (1994) Acute hepatitis E infection during the 1988 floods in Khartoum, Sudan. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 88:177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Messner F, Meyer V (2006) Flood damage, vulnerability and risk perception –challenges for flood damage research. In: Schanze J, Zeman E, Marsalek J (eds) Flood risk management: hazards, vulnerability and mitigation measures. Springer, New York, pp p149–p167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Orozco LR, Iturriaga MH, Tamplin ML et al (2008) Animal and environmental impact on the presence and distribution of Salmonella and Escherichia coli in hydroponic tomato greenhouses. J Food Prot 71(4):676–683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Phanuwan C, Takizawa S, Oguma K et al (2006) Monitoring of human enteric viruses and coliform bacteria in waters after urban flood in Jakarta, Indonesia. Water Sci Technol 54(July 2004):203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Rohayem J, Dumke R, Jaeger K et al (2006) Assessing the risk of transmission of viral diseases in flooded areas: viral load of the river Elbe in Dresden during the flood of August 2002. Intervirology 49(6):370–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rojas L, Vazquez A, Domenech I et al (2010) Fascioliasis: can Cuba conquer this emerging parasitosis? Trends Parasitol 26(1):26–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Schnitzler J, Benzler J, Altmann D et al (2007) Survey on the populationʼs needs and the public health response during floods in Germany 2002. J Public Health Manag Pract 13(5):461–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Schwartz BS, Harris JB, Khan AI et al (2006) Diarrheal epidemics in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during three consecutive floods: 1988, 1998, and 2004. Am J Trop Med Hyg 74(6):1067–1073CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Sedyaningsih-Mamahit ER, Larasati RP, Laras K et al (2002) First documented outbreak of hepatitis E virus transmission in Java, Indonesia. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 96(4):398–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Ten Veldhuis JA, Clemens FH, Sterk G et al (2010) Microbial risks associated with exposure to pathogens in contaminated urban flood water. Water Res 44(9):2910–2918CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Tierney JT, Sullivan R, Larkin EP (1977) Persistence of poliovirus 1 in soil and on vegetables grown in soil previously flooded with inoculated sewage sludge or effluent. Appl Environ Microbiol 33(1):109–113Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Tirado MC, Clarke R, Jaykus LA et al (2010) Climate change and food safety: a review. Food Res Int 43(7):1745–1765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Umlauf G, Bidoglio G, Christoph EH et al (2005) The situation of PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs after the flooding of river Elbe and Mulde in 2002. Acta Hydrochim Hydrobiol 33:543–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Vachiramon V, Busaracome P, Chongtrakool P et al (2008) Skin diseases during floods in Thailand. J Med Assoc Thail 91(4):479–484Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Vollaard AM, Ali S, van Asten HA et al (2004) Risk factors for typhoid and paratyphoid fever in Jakarta, Indonesia. JAMA 291(21):2607–2615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Watanabe T, Takada Y, Hieu DV et al (2014) Microbial contamination of agricultural fields affected by seasonal flood around Hue city, Vietnam. Proceedings of the 13th IWA specialist conference on watershed and river basin management, San Francisco, USA, 9–12 September 2014Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    World Health Organization (2014) Accessed 15 June 2016

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food, Life and Environmental SciencesYamagata UniversityTsuruokaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, College of Medicine and PharmacyHue UniversityHue CityVietnam
  3. 3.Faculty of Information Networking for Innovation and DesignToyo UniversityTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations