Medical Diseases Guide for the World Traveler
When it comes to packing your bags and taking a flight clear across the Atlantic Ocean, the experience of setting foot on foreign land or in an underdeveloped country can be an experience you will never forget. It can be stimulating, uplifting and rewarding, or it can turn into a distressful nightmare of worry, dread and fear when you are not prepared for the unexpected conditions or situations of strange lands.
People travel abroad for many different reasons; some go abroad for vacations, holiday retreats, for studies and for business reasons. If you go alone or if you are taking the family to see the wonders of a new country or nation, do not leave home without proper immunizations, for vaccinations are just as important as your passport, your luggage and your air plane ticket. When scheduling a trip to places such as South America, study up on the living conditions and the environment of your destination so that you will be prepared when and if you come upon unsanitary conditions and a lack of clean and uncontaminated water.
When travelling abroad for pleasure, business or study, it is quite necessary to do research on your overseas destination. One of the main concerns for visitors is the threat of diseases and illnesses that you may come in contact with while you are in strange lands. This is one reason why it is so important to be vaccinated before you leave and why it is vital to know the health risks of where you are going. In lands that are less developed, you will find that such diseases as malaria, chagas, typhoid, and cholera can be major medical risk factors that can turn a pleasure trip into a nightmare or a well-planned safari vacation into misery and gloom as you seek emergency medical attention. Travelers must do their research way ahead of their departure date when going overseas, not just for safety reasons alone, but for keeping healthy too while enjoying the time spent on foreign land . Below, you will find some of the diseases associated with different countries that you should be mindful of when you are getting ready to travel abroad.
Yellow Fever – This disease is found in countries such as the Republic of Angola, the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Bolivia. It is also found in Brazil, Cameroon, the Congo, Ecuador, Nigeria, Panama and Peru. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and primates. This disease comes in two different classifications, jungle yellow fever and urban jungle fever. If you get infected with this while travelling abroad, symptoms will not show up for 3 to 6 days once infected. Yellow fever brings about achy muscles, dizziness, headaches and chills in the first stage. However in the 2nd stage, jaundice, hemorrhaging and failure of the liver and kidneys can occur. Treatment may include such things as blood transfusions and dialysis.
Malaria - This disease is found abroad in countries such as East and Central Africa, North and West Africa as well as the Amazon Rainforest, Central America, Asia and the Caribbean to name a few. It occurs when humans are bitten by the female mosquitoes. The parasite enters the bloodstream and destroys red blood cells. Symptoms may include headache, muscle aches, chills, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, coma, convulsions and breathing difficulty can occur. With this disease, a hospital stay is quite necessary so that IVs and respiratory care can be given.
Hepatitis - This disease comes in two categories, Hepatitis A and B. The danger zones for Hepatitis A can be found in such places as Afghanistan, Angola, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the Congo, China, Costa Rica and Jamaica for instance. Poor sanitation and sewage is the culprit of this type of hepatitis. It can also be sexually transmitted. Symptoms include abdominal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite and jaundice. It takes about two months for this illness to clear up. In severe cases, a short hospital stay may be necessary.
Rabies - When travelling abroad, travelers should be mindful of rabies. You can find this illness taking place where dogs run rampant and rabid in countries such as the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Prompt medical attention is vital after one has been bitten by a stray dog that is infected. If not taken care of immediately with a vaccine anecdote, the illness can lead to death. Other animals that travelers should be aware of when abroad are bats, monkeys, the mongoose and the jackal, for these animals can carry the disease as well. Symptoms of this illness are weakness and swelling of the affected area. When severe, symptoms can be paralysis, respiratory failure and the inability to swallow.
Typhoid - This illness is a life threatening bacterial infection. Typhoid Fever occurs when food and drinks are exposed or handled by a person shedding S.Typhi. It is also found in contaminated sewage, when the S. Typhi gets into water that is used for eating, drinking and cleaning. Symptoms of this disorder include high fever, stomach pain, headache and body weakness, and a rash can occur. You may also experience a loss of appetite. However, since the symptoms can resemble other illnesses, it is important to get a diagnosis from a doctor. The physician will give a blood test and examine a stool sample. So when abroad, make sure you aren’t eating and drinking from unsanitary conditions. Know your sources for food and water. You can find Typhoid Fever is countries such as Mexico, South America, India, Pakistan and Egypt.
Cholera - If you are planning to travel to the area of Sub-Saharan Africa, be aware of this disease that is common in this nation. Be careful what you eat, for instance raw shellfish carries the bacteria in cholera. One should drink only boiled water, or water that has been treated with iodine or chlorine. Make sure the foods you eat are cooked, hot and well done. Do not eat salads and you should avoid eating or drinking anything bought from a street vendor in areas known to have cholera. Symptoms of this illness are profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. Dehydration and shock can also occur. With these symptoms death can occur within as little as a few hours if medical attention is not available.
Dengue Fever - This is another health risk when travelling to such places as South-East Asia, East Africa, Central and North America. It is also common in areas of the Caribbean and North and South Africa. This infection occurs when one has been bitten by a mosquito while visiting the tropics. It is not as dangerous as cholera. Symptoms include a rash, which is accompanied by severe pain in the joints and muscles. With this illness, the fever will come and go. Though painful and uncomfortable, the illness is not life threatening. There is no cure or a vaccine for Dengue Fever. Once someone has been bitten, it takes anywhere from 5-8 days after the bite for the infection to show symptoms.
Meningitis - West Africa has many documented cases of meningitis infections. This disease has become deadly in places such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Ghana, Benin and Central African Republic. With this disease, it can become fatal within a few hours if medical help is not available. The disease is described as an illness that swells the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, pain the limbs, stiffness in the neck and a rash can occur. Victims may also be confused, sleepy and have convulsions. Emergency medical treatment is vital.
HIV/AIDS – When travelling abroad, another disease or infection that is a growing epidemic is that of HIV and AIDS. This disease is in places such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is in the Caribbean and Latin America, becoming a real threat to all nations. Having HIV is what causes AIDS. It can take up to ten years to have symptoms of HIV after you have been exposed. Beginning symptoms include swollen glands that affect the throat, groin and under arm area. Other symptoms for AIDS include thrush, yeast infections, extreme fatigue, dizziness and rapid weight loss. With AIDS, the glands harden in the throat, groin and under the arms.
Lyme’s Disease - Another risky disease to think about when you travel to such places as France, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom is Lyme disease. This disease occurs when one has been bitten by an infected tick, which carries the Lyme bacteria. Symptoms include a bump and a rash where the victim was attacked. The rash will spread within a few days and it will feel warm and itchy. Fever, body pain, chills, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes will also occur. If gone untreated, the disease can turn into meningitis, causing heart palpitations and loss of facial muscle tone, causing Bell’s Palsy. If you come in contact with Lyme disease while abroad, it is important to seek medical attention right away and get on a regiment of antibiotics.
Traveler’s Diarrhea – Nothing messes up a trip abroad worse than having to suffer with traveler’s diarrhea. This can occur when you go to places such as Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East, Asia and Africa. This type of diarrhea is bought on by food and water that is contaminated with fecal matter. When and if this occurs, victims can experience fever and have bloody stool. It can usually clear up on its own within 3-5 days. However, with your first week of travel, this condition can have you stuck in the bed instead of being out and about enjoying your travel. So as you can see, it is very important to watch what you eat and drink when you leave the country to travel abroad.
Chagas Disease - This disease can occur anytime you are travelling to Latin America, for it has been documented that 21 countries in Latin America are bothered with this disease. One gets infected by blood sucking insects. Treatment involves medical antibiotics and supervision of the medications used to treat the patients or victims. This is because the side effects of the drugs used to fight the condition are risky, especially in older individuals. This disease is often fatal if you catch it. It is also known as the disease of poverty.
Now that you have the scoop on health concerns when travelling abroad, it is important that you pay attention to the warnings of health and safety. If you do so, this will make your travel arrangements more pleasing and satisfying. Though all of these diseases or illnesses are common and do exist, don’t let the threat of them ruin your travel adventure. Just be cautious and prepared while you enjoy your trip. For further information, please see the links below.
- Travelling Abroad: Travel Medication
- Immunizations and Going Abroad
- Your Health while Abroad
- Yellow Fever Facts
- About Yellow Fever
- Countries with HIV/AIDS
- Questions and Answers on Symptoms and Treatment of HIV/AIDS
- Hepatitis Danger Zones
- Countries with Lyme Disease
- Symptoms and Treatment of Lyme Disease
- Prevention and Self-Treatment of Traveler’s Diarrhea
- About Typhoid Fever
- Health Information for Travelling to Different Countries
- Cholera Facts
- Symptoms and Treatment for Dengue Fever
- Symptoms of Meningitis