As the death toll in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Nargis becomes clear, new dangers loom. Complete breakdown in essential services and sanitation will conspire to kill thousands more via disease unless the world moves quickly (and maybe, even if we do).
Arthropod-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are likely to flourish as standing water serves as breeding ground for mosquitoes. Malaria kills around a million people a year. Dengue is most often a disabling illness characterized by fever and severe pain, but in endemic areas it can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, a fatal illness resembling Ebola and Marburg viruses (but not as contagious).
Diseases related to lack of clean water, such as diarrhea, cholera, and hepatitis A can be especially nasty with little fresh water available for rehydration.
Tetanus, acquired from wounds, is a particularly grizzly death, and was seen frequently in victims of the Pakistan earthquake.
As bad as the initial death toll is (perhaps around 100K), it can get much worse quickly. Hopefully the world will respond as it did after the Great Tsunami, and hopefully the Burmese Junta won’t stand in the way. If they do, they may not have much left to rule over.