Health Implications for June to August 2023

Respiratory Illness
  • Frequent episodes of Saharan dust incursions into the Caribbean in the coming season may increase the risk of exacerbations of allergic rhinitis and asthma in susceptible persons. In the few areas where ongoing short term drought is expected to subside (e.g. Cuba, parts of northern Jamaica and St. Vincent), there may still be relatively high atmospheric dust concentrations, as well as, potential soot and smoke from bushfires until the wet season rains moisten the topsoil. Such conditions may initially contribute to higher concentrations of airborne particulate matter. This could result in an increase in acute respiratory illnesses, as well as ocular allergies.
  • The increased soil moisture and humidity towards the end of July in the coastal Guianas, as well as, in Belize and the Caribbean Islands towards the end of August may promote mold growth in damp and poorly ventilated buildings, leading to increased respiratory symptoms.

Gastrointestinal Illness
  • Following extreme weather events or disasters, there is an increased chance that the conventional means of water supply may be compromised resulting in persons seeking alternative water resources where the water is untreated and the water quality is unknown. This has the potential to increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness.
  • Where episodes of flooding may occur, cases of gastroenteritis may increase, where persons consume foods contaminated by these waters. Wading in flood waters could also result in an increase in skin infections due to contact with contaminated stagnant and/or flood waters, especially in the coastal Guianas. This is increasingly the case across Belize and the Caribbean islands towards the end of August, although the likelihood decreases in the coastal Guianas after July.
  • In the unlikely event of lingering drought conditions, concentrations of water pollutants for small reservoirs and tanks may temporarily increase. Additionally, in some cases, a reduction in water pressure in distribution systems may result in cross-contamination and use of alternative, unsafe sources, in turn potentially causing higher incidences of gastrointestinal illness.

Non-communicable Diseases and Vulnerable Populations
  • Levels of morbidity and the rate of hospitalisations from excessive heat are very likely to increase due to high temperatures and increasing humidity – especially during heat waves – across the region towards August.
  • Throughout the three-month period, there will be an increased risk of heat stress which may present as a worsening in chronic conditions such as cardiovascular, respiratory, cerebrovascular disease and diabetes- related conditions. Symptoms can include lethargy, general weakness, dizziness, fainting and, in extreme cases, kidney failure. For information on heat and health see: and
  • During this period, excessive exposure due to dangerous UV radiation can cause skin damage in persons who spend extended periods outdoors, especially on sunny days (for more information, see: For simple action steps on sun protection see:
  • There is the increasing possibility of skin infections due to contact with contaminated stagnant and/or flood waters in the region (but with lower risk in the ABC Islands, which are in their long dry season).

Vector-Borne Illness
  • Episodes of flooding may occur in any area of the Caribbean during this period. In such cases, there is increased risk of Leptospirosis due to displaced rodents that could contaminate flood waters, household items and food containers.
  • The presence of stagnant water in the aftermath of a flood may promote the breeding of mosquitoes. However, note that in the case of flash floods, flood waters may sweep away mosquito eggs, larvae and pupae, potentially reducing mosquito populations for up to a few weeks after flash flooding.
  • In the few areas where there is lingering drought or where dry spells remain frequent during this period, there may be increased use of containers for storage, as well as water accumulating in any unattended, open containers. This may potentially create more breeding sites for mosquitoes, especially those associated with diseases, such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika. In addition, higher temperatures increase the rate of development of mosquito vectors and mosquito populations, as well as increase the risk of transmission of vector borne diseases. Proper management of water storage containers e.g., covering with protective mesh helps to reduce this risk.
  • Access useful materials on mosquito control measures here: (; Join the fight against mosquito borne disease in the Caribbean: and

Well-Being and Mental Health
  • Severe weather systems, which can come with a range of hazards, including high winds, landslides, flash floods, among others, are expected to affect Caribbean territories. With the possibility of severe weather systems such as tropical cyclones, health practitioners and administrators should maintain a state of readiness.
  • During heat waves, extreme weather events or disasters, vulnerable populations, including the elderly, may have an increased need for medical care as they face a greater risk of poor health and even death. Health care providers and other stakeholders should clearly define and locate vulnerable populations, and develop tailored strategies for assisting them.
  • Peaks in heat stress associated with heat waves, can increase mood-affective and stress-related disorders, as well as, other mental and behavioural disorders. Suicide risk can also increase. Persons taking medication for mental health disorders eg psychotropic medications, are at greater risk of heat-health effects. Medical personnel are advised to be alert to identify these patients and provide health risk education.
  • Frequent heat waves in the upcoming period are highly likely to increase exhaustion during intense outdoor activity and limit labour productivity. It can further increase sweating and water consumption and, during prolonged heat waves, lead to fatigue, irritability and aggression. Limit strenuous outdoor activities to early morning, when intense heat and pollen levels are low.
  • When disasters have seasonal patterns, like hurricanes, floods and drought, psychosocial impacts such as anxiety among survivors may increase as alerts on isolated events arise. Health care professionals are therefore advised to be sensitive to these issues, as they interact with patients.
  • Policy makers need to 1) put into place early warning systems to reduce mental health burden to communities that are most vulnerable to climate-related threats and 2) ensure that climate change and climate action is communicated in a way that minimises the risk of prompting an emotional response of hopelessness and maximises the chance of encouraging action).

COVID-19 and Climate Impacts
  • Water quantity and quality is critical to support prevention strategies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regards to safe water for hygiene purposes. Flooding and drought may affect continuous access to safe water. Therefore, special attention should be paid to impacted communities.
  • Any disaster occurring will compound psychosocial impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly disasters arising from extreme weather events. Health care professionals are therefore advised to be sensitive to these issues, as they interact with patients.
  • Extreme weather events or disasters may cause an increased burden on already stressed healthcare services and the rollout of vaccination campaigns. Countries should factor this into their contingency plans and actions.
  • The WHO on declared on May 5th 2023, that COVID-19 was no longer a global emergency.  Future advisories will be provided in accordance with any evolving events.

This Bulletin provides a broad overview of climate conditions up to 3 months in advance. It is based on insights drawn from CIMH’s suite of technical climate information products and epidemiological insights from CARPHA and PAHO. The information contained herein is provided with the understanding that the CARPHA, the PAHO and the CIMH make no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of said information. The Bulletin may be freely used and disseminated by the public with appropriate acknowledgement of its source but shall not be modified in content and then presented as original material.