While traveling the world, your body is introduced to many new bugs and bacteria, some of which are more dangerous than others. This post is not meant to scare you but remind you to take proper precautions, such as making sure you have term life insurance, so you can travel safely and with peace of mind. Below are some common travel diseases, what they are and how to avoid them.
Malaria is a serious disease caused by parasites. It’s fatal if left untreated. It is transmitted by a bite from a malaria-infected female mosquito. More than 100 countries are in the danger zones of Malaria including India, Central and South America, SE Asia, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Which Malaria drug to use depends on side effects, the malaria type and which drugs the parasite is resistant to in that area. The side effect of taking malaria pills can sometimes feel just as bad as having malaria, so take the drugs only if you really know that there will be malaria where you go. Malaria pills aren’t 100% effective, so be sure you sleep under a mosquito net, use insect repellents and wear long pants and shirts in the evening or when walking in places with a lot of mosquitoes.
Traveler’s Diarrhea is exactly what it sounds like. A foreign bacteria or bug enters your system, most often from contaminated food and water and causes diarrhea. Many travelers also get upset stomachs because of the sudden diet change. When this happens, stay hydrated and avoid spicy food. TD can happen anywhere, but the risk is higher in developing countries in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Latin America. To avoid it always drink bottled water, don’t brush your teeth in tap water if it’s not drinkable, keep your mouth closed when showering., ask for no ice in your drinks, stick to cooked food and be careful with fruit and seafood. If the damage is already done, then the best way to stop it is to have Imodium and Pepto-Bismol on hand. If symptoms don’t go away or they get worse, seek medical attention.
Cholera is a severe bacterial disease that affects the intestines, creating vomiting and watery diarrhea. It’s an extreme type of travel diarrhea that can be fatal if left untreated. The germ is spread by drinking contaminated water or infected food. This disease can be found in Indonesia, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. It can be prevented with a drinkable vaccine called Dukoral. Two doses, one taken a week after the first, will keep you safe for two years.
Hepatitis A & B
Both Hepatitis A and B are viral infections of the liver. Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood. Often you don’t notice that you’re infected because there are little to no symptoms and the symptoms can come a long time after you’ve been infected, Hepatitis A takes 2-6 weeks to show any symptoms and Hepatitis B takes 2-6 months. Typical symptoms are nausea, fever, malaise and abdominal problems. The diseases are most common in less developed countries and regions with poor hygiene standards, but they exist everywhere. Vaccinations are 95-100% effective when taken at least 4 weeks prior to trip. These vaccines are also taken in a series and offer 20 years of protection.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection in the intestines and sometimes the bloodstream. It’s transmitted by contaminated food or water with salmonella. Typical symptoms are severe headache, nausea, massive loss of appetite and fever. It exists everywhere but the risks are highest in poor countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Indian subcontinents and Mexico. The vaccine is only between 50-80% effective so stay away from water that could be contaminated and uncooked food. Take the vaccine two weeks before travel.
Now you know what is out there, so you are more prepared while traveling. To further prepare yourself make sure you are protected with term life insurance before you go. Let one of our agents know that you intend to do some international traveling and they will help find the best company for you.