Going abroad should be an enjoyable experience, where you bring home life-long memories–not partial recollections of being unwell. But when traveling, you’re vulnerable to certain diseases you might not otherwise encounter.
The risk of contracting diseases isn’t one to ignore and at times, many travelers forget that some illnesses are avoidable. Make sure you do your research and find out what injections you need before you leave. Travel doctors will be able to help you identify vaccinations needed for the country you’re traveling to, as well as whether you’ve been vaccinated already. During my time abroad, I’ve faced a number of woes, mostly stomach-related illnesses. The majority of the time, I was able to handle it on my own, however a hospitalization in Thailand ten years ago reminded me that even being equipped with the slightest knowledge of some diseases can help you cope better while on the road. Check out these six common illnesses around the world that you should know about.
Affecting between 300 and 500 million people every year, Malaria is a dangerous disease with varying consequences. Sufferers tend to experience flu-like symptoms such as chills, nausea and muscle aches, and the risks to your health include seizures, organ failures and even death.
As this CTI explains, malaria is passed from the bite of an infected mosquito and before traveling, your GP will prescribe you with malarial tablets to take for the duration of your trip. You should also cover up, use bug protection spray and mosquito nets.
Mosquitos won’t just give you malaria. They could infect you with dengue fever. Around 100 million people are affected each year with dengue fever, suffering symptoms like headaches, pain and rashes. Dengue fever vaccines are still in development, so you’re advised to keep hydrated and take acetaminophen for pain relief.
In January 2016, new warnings from the CDC were released regarding the outbreak of the Zika Virus, naming 14 countries and territories in Central and South America and the Caribbean. It hit the headlines because the Zika Virus can cause birth defects in pregnant women, and there are currently no vaccines or medications available to prevent or treat infections. Sufferers must get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration and take acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain.
If you’re traveling to countries where sanitation levels are poor, you could be at risk of contracting cholera. It’s caused by infection of the intestines through the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae.
Although around one million Vibrio Cholerae bacteria would have to be ingested for it to be a threat to healthy adults, a lack of clean, sanitized conditions greatly increase the incidents of this disease. If you’re visiting a cholera-affected region, you should have a vaccine to protect you.
As a life-threatening disease that affects 12.5 million people each year, precautions should be taken if visiting underdeveloped regions such as Asia, Latin America or Africa to minimize the risk of contracting typhoid. It tends to be more common where water could be contaminated with sewage and can be passed on when eating or drinking contaminated substances.
Typhoid has fever-like symptoms, including temperatures of up to 40° C, stomach pain, headaches and a loss of appetite.
Tetanus gets into your body through an open wound, and is caused by the bacterium Clostridium Tetani. Fortunately, jabs are fairly common – it’s likely you’ll have had one in early childhood. But you do need booster shots every 10 years so it’s important to check with your doctor.
Are you a frequent traveler? Share your tips for staying fit and healthy when you’re abroad.
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