The 6 Worst Travel Health Threats And How To Avoid Them
Your big trip overseas carries risks. Don’t let these health threats derail your adventure

January 18, 2013

travel health threats people with homemade masks

Your big trip overseas carries risks, which is why you don’t want to let these travel health threats derail your adventure.

1. Threat: Dengue Fever

What it is: A potentially fatal viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes.

Danger zones: Tropical and subtropical regions

Prevent it: Wear protective clothing, use mosquito repellent, and sleep in a screened or air conditioned room. If you come down with a high fever and suspect dengue, see a doctor. And avoid aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, which can cause bleeding.

Related: We Busted 6 Travel Myths That Might Be Causing You Anxiety

2. Threat: Diarrhoea

What it is: Bowel woes brought on by contaminated food or water.

Danger zones: Pretty much anywhere; diarrhoea strikes as many as half of international travellers, according to the US Centre for Disease Control.

Prevent it: Steer clear of tap water, ice, undercooked meat, salads and unpeeled raw vegetables and fruit. Just in case, pack an OTC diarrhoea remedy, such as Imodium A-D (loperamide), to treat the trots.

3. Threat: Bilharzia

What it is: A parasitic disease from freshwater worms that enter your body and produce eggs, which travel to your internal organs.

Danger zones: Your risk is highest in southern and sub-Saharan Africa, but you’re also exposed in areas of the Middle East, Asia, and South America.

Prevent it: Don’t drink from or wade, swim or bathe in bodies of freshwater, such as rivers, lakes and streams.

Related: 7 Tips From A Travel Writer To Guarantee Stress-Free Travel

4. Threat: Malaria

What it is: A potentially fatal illness carried by mosquitoes that tend to bite from dusk to dawn.

Danger zones: Africa, Central America, South America, and parts of Asia, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe

Prevent it: Preventive drugs vary; talk to your doctor before traveling, and check the CDC’s list of malaria meds. Once abroad, protect yourself against mosquito bites.

5. Threat: Measles

What it is: A highly contagious virus causing high fever, runny nose, watery eyes, and a rash.

Danger zones: Worldwide.

Prevent it: Make sure your vaccines are current. European nations often don’t enforce childhood immunisation requirements as stringently as South Africa does.

Related: How To Avoid Getting Sick On Your Next Flight

6. Threat: Yellow Fever

What it is: A mosquito-borne virus that can be fatal.

Danger zones: Sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America

Prevent it: Do some research to check the to see if your destination is a high-risk area for these travel health threats. If it is, consider a vaccine before you go (some countries require one – check your visa requirements a). And protect yourself against mosquito bites just as you would for malaria or dengue fever.