The 6 Worst Travel Health Threats and How To Avoid Them

by | Jan 5, 2024 | Travel

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.

READ MORE: Tips For Easy Travel

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.

READ MORE: The Ultimate MH Travel Guide to Enjoying the European Summer

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.

READ MORE: 7 Tips from a Travel Writer to Ensure Stress-Free Travel

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.

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