Most of us love to travel a lot without knowing what the consequences might be. We are not very aware of certain diseases that we can pick up from different countries that we travel to. So what are traveler’s diseases anyway? These are diseases that we contract when traveling away from home, most especially when we travel from a highly developed country to a less developed one. These diseases can be acquired by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, from animal droppings, from soil, close encounter with infected animals, and if bitten by vectors like mosquitoes, flies, and ticks. Some can even be derived from walking and swimming on the beach barefooted. Simple things that we ignore can actually be the cause of a dreadful disease.
Let me give you some of the most popular diseases that we can contract while on a travel, and I will be giving pointers on how to prevent from getting these diseases.
o African Sleeping Sickness
As the name implies, this disease can be contracted from the Eastern and Central Africa. It is also called the African trypanosomiasis. It is caused by a parasite and is transmitted by a tsetse fly causing a systemic disease. This is most abundant in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zaire, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The disease would occur within the period of four weeks, with initial symptoms of fever, rash, skin lesions, swollen lymph nodes, and edema. And this can actually progress to meningoencephalitis, which is a very serious disease. Once meningoencephalitis has occurred, personality changes, progressive confusion, irritability, weight loss, slurred speech, seizures, insomnia, and difficulty in walking and talking will then follow.
There are no drugs or vaccine that can prevent this disease. But here are some tips to prevent insect bites.
1. Wear long-sleeved shirt and pants for protection, and it should be thick because tsetse fly can bite through clothing materials.
2. Tsetse flies are attracted to bright and dark colors, so it is better to wear something khaki or neutral-colored clothes.
3. Bed nets are best recommended while napping.
4. Avoid riding open vehicles like jeeps or pickup trucks. Tsetse flies are fond of dust created by moving vehicles.
5. Tsetse fly usually rest in the bushes during hot days, but they bite once disturbed. So avoid walking through the bushes.
o Mad Cow Disease
This is a bovine spongiform encephalopathy that affects the cattle but with the new variant, the disease was passed to humans. Both diseases cause fatal brain injuries and diseases. Most of the cases are found in Great Britain, the disease resulted from feeding cattle with scrapie-containing sheep meat and bone. This disease can be passed to humans by eating an infected beef, causing the humans to have mental retardation and dementia. Travelers can reduce the risk of exposure by avoiding beef, or selecting beef products, instead of eating ground beef and sausages, it is better to eat solid pieces of beef.
It is an infectious, acute disease from consuming contaminated water and food. The bacteria Vibrio cholera is to blame for this disease. It is mostly found in South Asia, Africa, and Latin America like Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, and Columbia. The unsanitary disposal of excrement is the cause of an impure water supply attracting Vibrio cholera.
How can we prevent Cholera? As the center of disease control says “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it”. Here are some preventive measures that we should remember.
1. Use and drink only boiled or chemically disinfected water. Use disinfected water for brushing teeth, washing your face and hands, washing fruits and vegetables, utensils, bottles, glasses.
2. Refrain from eating food and drinking beverages with unknown sources like unpasteurized milk or milk products, raw meats, shellfish, and any fish from tropical reefs.
Like what I always say, it’s better to be safe than sorry!