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Travelling Abroad? Avoid These Common Illnesses and Diseases
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Travelling Abroad? Avoid These Common Illnesses and Diseases

Travelling abroad is a unique, novel experience (unless you’re an experienced travel nomad!). You get to try new cuisines, experience a new culture, immerse yourself in a new language, and spend time in various environments.   

All of these changes are exciting and have the potential to improve both mental and physical health. If you are not adequately prepared for your trip, you may be exposed to illnesses that harm your health. But if you plan ahead of time, you can avoid getting sick while travelling.  

Some diseases are found everywhere, while others are more common in specific areas. Learn what vaccinations or safety precautions are recommended for the place you’re visiting. Visit your doctor four to six weeks before your trip to ensure adequate time for vaccinations to take effect.   


Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Senegal has had an isolated case).  

This previously distant and easily contained disease has garnered international awareness as of March 2014. The current Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) outbreak has reached five nations. Individuals travelling to impacted areas should be aware of the symptoms, including fever, rash, diarrhea, vomiting, and red eyes. Internal and external bleeding are additional symptoms of the disease, spreading from person to person through contact with contaminated body fluids such as saliva, sperm, or blood. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, small outbreaks continue.  

Ebola has no recognized vaccine or treatment and has a fatality rate of up to 90% in infected persons – however, the virus requires very close touch with bodily fluids to be spread and maybe readily avoided by regular hand-washing and protective gear preventing contact with bodily fluids.  

Dengue Fever  

Because there is no therapy or vaccination for this mosquito-transmitted virus, your sole defence is to wear long sleeves and pants and apply insect repellent. Aedes aegypti, a daytime biter, can be found worldwide. In other cases, flu-like symptoms might take up to two weeks to appear and continue for a week or more.  

Infection with a second, third, or fourth serotype might lead to a more severe illness than the first exposure — such as Dengue hemorrhagic fever — although all four serotypes of the dengue virus are prevalent worldwide.  


The Schistosoma parasitic worm that causes this disease, also known as bilharzia, is carried by freshwater snails. Polluted freshwater rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetlands are infested with the larvae of the worms, which penetrate the skin, such as the soles of your feet.  

Read: The blood of this crab could be lifesaving for you.  

There are 52 counties in which the worm is endemic, according to the WHO, due to water contamination from human feces carrying the worm’s parasitic eggs. Within the first two months of infection, some people will feel fever, chills, cough, and muscle aches; others will not experience any symptoms. The severity of your symptoms is directly related to the number of parasites in your body.  

Using hot water for bathing and avoiding freshwater swimming can help you avoid illness. Despite the lack of vaccination, there is a fast-acting and effective treatment available: For parasites, the medicine praziquantel can kill them within a day or two of treatment.  


Tuberculosis is found throughout Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Tuberculosis (TB), the second most infectious cause of death worldwide (behind HIV/AIDS), is thought to infect one-third of the world’s population. TB can exist in a “latent” condition, in which people carry the bacterium but do not develop the disease. Although tuberculosis occurs in practically every country, infections are concentrated in developing countries, particularly Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.  

This airborne disease spreads from person to person and primarily attacks the lungs, although it can spread to other body regions.  

There is a vaccine available, but its effectiveness in adults is limited. It is most effective in young children who have not yet been exposed to TB germs. Symptoms include a persistent cough, fatigue, weight loss, and night sweats. If identified, tuberculosis is treatable and cured with a lengthy course of antibiotics. However, drug-resistant strains of the disease have arisen over the world.  

Lyme Disease   

The northeastern, north-central, and Pacific coasts of North America are the most common locations where Lyme disease is found. Infected black leg ticks transmit microorganisms that cause the disease.  

Erythema migrans, a distinctive rash on the skin, are one of the most common signs of a viral infection. If not treated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. Insect repellent is a must if you’re going to be outdoors. For this reason, it is equally important to remove ticks from your body as soon as you see them, as they must be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours before transmitting the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.  

The condition can be treated with antibiotics if identified early enough.  

Traveller’s Diarrhea  

The Indian subcontinent, North Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America are the most at risk for travellers’ diarrhea.  

When various bacteria, viruses, or protozoa induce diarrhea, this is used to describe it.  

Symptoms are generally moderate, but infections can disrupt a vacation or business trip, causing dehydration, weakness, and general inconvenience from repeated trips to the bathroom. Transmission is primarily by contaminated food or water. It can be avoided as your immune system isn’t ready for the new, exotic microorganisms found in bottled water, prudent dietary choices, and regular hand-washing.  

Hepatitis A  

Most developing nations are at risk of being infected with hepatitis A.  

Hepatitis A is the most common form of hepatitis that most tourists should be aware of because it can be transmitted by drinking contaminated water or eating raw food. One of the most common causes of foodborne infection is the disease is intimately linked to unclean water, inadequate sanitation, and poor personal hygiene.  

There is a safe and effective vaccine against the virus, which most tourists are encouraged to have. Still, prudent food and drink choices are recommended to avoid liver problems and potentially serious illnesses from viral infection. Fever, malaise, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, dark-coloured urine, and jaundice are all symptoms of hepatitis. According to the WHO, an estimated 1.4 million people contract Hepatitis A each year. Rehydration and supportive care are the only treatments available for the condition, which requires weeks or months of recovery time. 

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