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.
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.
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.
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.