Traveling's Greatest Concerns
I am a retired teacher and have had to take a seminar on Hepatitis B and C every year while in the public school system.Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and blood products, and bodily fluids and can be transmitted through shared needles and unprotected sex as well as transfusions using unscreened blood. Its symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, joint pain and jaundice of the skin and eyes. Symptoms can last weeks to several months and some people may develop chronic hepatitis B. It can also cause liver disease and cancer.
Hepatitis C is a contagious disease that causes liver damage and is spread through blood contract and can be spread on occasion through sexual contact. It usually is a sort term infection but for most leads to a chronic infection that may result in death. Most people do not feel sick at first, but when symptoms do occur, they usually include stomach pain, nausea, and appetite loss, jaundice of skin and eyes, dark urine and fatigue. Often long term infection can result in scarring and cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer or failure.
Hepatitis E Another liver disease that is spread through contaminated water and food. Some people don't ever feel sick upon contracting the disease, but symptoms usually last from two to six months and include fever, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and jaundice of skin and eyes. Most people who contract it recover with no lasting liver damage.
Mosquitos are the greatest killers on the planet and spread a number of diseases. Whether you are in the United States or third world countries, you will need to check the CDC for illnesses spread by these disease carriers. The Zika virus is one that has most recently been brought into public light. The CDC shows that it is found in 31 countries beside the United States as of this post. It causes mild symptoms when they do show. However, some people don't even know they are infected. Mainly, infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects.
The following are other illnesses that are carried by mosquitos:
Yellow fever is a tropical disease which affects the kidneys and the liver, and often fatal. It is transmitted by mosquitos that carried the diseasei.
Malaria is a chronic relapsing, remitting fever pervasive in many tropical and subtropical regions caused by protozoan parasite carried by mosquitos
Rift Valley fever (RVF) This disease is caused by a virus spread by mosquito bites. It is also spread by direct contact with blood, fluids, or tissues of infected animals such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels.Most people with RVF do not feel sick or have only mild illness. Symptoms of RVF include fever, weakness, back pain, dizziness, and weight loss. People usually recover in two days to one week. However, some people may have more severe illness, such as severe bleeding, swelling of the brain, or eye disease. About 1-10% of infected people may have permanent loss of vision. Approximately 1% of people who get RVF die from the disease.
Most health concerns overseas involve problems such as altitude sickness and travelers curse. However, many countries have problems with diseases such as typhoid, malaria, sleeping sickness and other illnesses. I have been to many countries, and always check with my travel agent or the Center for Disease Control before I go to find out whether I need vaccines or other items to keep me healthy.
Fortunately I have only had a few minor illnesses as a result of travel, however some of the common ones can make your trip miserable too. When I was in the Dominican Republic years ago, the entire resort I was staying at came down with traveler's scourge. It was expecially hard on those of us who snorkeled and were diving in the ocean. When I made my maiden trip abroad, I was hit with a severe case of jet lag and was quite sick the next morning. Since, I have learned how to ease into a travel mode. The most serious was in Hawaii when we went to the top of Mauna Kea. I developed altitude sickness and needed oxygen.
But none of the above problems are among the major concerns we have when going abroad. The illnesses we should attend to while traveling could fill a long list. I could go into detail with each country down below, however as everything is in a constant state of flux, it is in your best interests to check on the latest updates from the CDC for your information. These are the most common illnesses to watch for.
Scabies, a skin condition caused by itch mites and spread through long and direct contact with another who has scabies. Symptoms include intense itching, especially at night. It causes pimple like rash and can sometimes lead to kidney problems and major skin problems.
African Tick-Bite Fever
This fever is caused by a bacteria spread by infected ticks. Symptoms beyond fever include headache, rash, and muscle ache. Symptoms will often appear within two weeks and present with a red sore with a dark center at the site of the bite.
Chagas Disease (American Trypanosomiasis) Assassin Bug.
This disease is spread by a a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi and is passed onto animals and people by insects found mainly in the impoverished portions of the Americas.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
This diseases is contagious and is spread by infecting people coughing and sneezing around others. Early symptoms mimic a cold with runny nose, mild fever, cough, and a pause in the breathing of babies. Later symptoms include high pitched fits of coughing or a croup type of cough. One percent of infected individuals will die.
Pneumococcal Disease A disease caused by a bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae) This can include a variety of diseases including pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, as well as meningitis, an infection of the overing around the brain and spinal cord. It is spread through sneezing, coughing, and close contact with someone who is infected.
Rubella Rubella another name for German measles. I had this in college when my campus in Wisconsin was hit with an epidemic. It is spread by infected people through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include aching, slight fever and bright red rash that itches which lasts for 2 to 3 days. It can also cause birth defects in babies.
Ross River virus disease This is another virus spread though mosquito bites. Many who contract this disease will not feel sick. For those who do, the symptoms include fever, joint and muscle pain and swelling, fever, tiredness, and rash. Most recover in a few weeks, but some will have joint pain and stiffness, tiredness for months.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) JE's symptoms usually present themselves from between five and fifteen days. Symptoms include headache, fever, vomiting, confusion, difficulty in moving, and later brain swelling and coma. It may eventually lead to death.
Chikungunya is virus born illness that, once again, is spread by mosquitos.
Dengue, another virus spread by mosquitos. In severe cases, symptoms include extreme stomach pain, vomiting bleeding from nose or mouth and death. Usual symptoms include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting rash and pain in joints, muscles and eyes. Symptoms usually last one week.
Fleas, ticks, mites and flies
Plague (Bubonic, Septicemic, and Pneumonic) Fleas
Although is is well known that plague can be spread by fleas, it can also be spread by touching infected animals. Very rarely is it spread though human contact.
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) can also be contracted by eating or drinking pasteurized dairy products made from infected animals. The symptoms for this disease include aches, fever, headache vomiting, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord and confusion. Some experience sensory disturbances and 1% die from the infection.
Always check with the CDC or your travel agent before traveling or getting any vaccines.
Their website is https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/
Polio A virus borne disease which affects the nervous system and usually spread by person to person contact. When I was young, a set of twins down the street had contracted it and local parents were scared to death of their kids getting it. Polio can be spread by eating or drinking raw food or water contaminated by an infected person feces. Most people who contract this disease, but when they do, symptoms include sore throat and cough, fever, headache, nausea, tiredness and stiff neck and back and pain int arms and legs. Most people who contract it recover completely. Occasionally polio can cause permanent paralysis or death.
Rabies - A disease which is most often fatal and is caused by a virus spread though the saliva of animals that are infected. All mammals can get rabies, and people usually get rabies from scratches, bite or being licked by infected dogs or animals such as foxes raccoons, mongooses and bats.
Leptospirosis This disease is spread through the urine of animals. People can become infected by touching water soil or food contaminated by this urine.
Tetanus is an illness that can occur after an injury with a contaminated object. The bacteria that cause tetanus are often found in common soil and gets into our body through a skin lesion. Often called “lockjaw” as jaw muscles tighten, and the mouth can't be opened. Some other symptoms of tetanus are, muscle stiffness, headache, problems swallowing, high blood pressure and seizures. Tetanus is extremely dangerous. It can cause paralysis and problems breathing. Ten to twenty percent of all people who come down with it die, despite hospitalization.
Tuberculosis (TB) This disease is caused by a bacteria that usually affects the lungs, but can also occur in other parts of our body. It is spread by the infected person coughing, sneezing, talking or singing. Not everyone who has tuberculosis becomes sick but usually present with coughing up blood or other substance, loss of appetite, fever and sweating, chills, and weakness or exhaustion. It can be contracted by eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy products in countries that have TB in cattle.
Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) This disease is caused by a virus which is spread through infected mosquitos. Though most people don't feel sick, some develop fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting. Some of the more severe symptoms include; brain infection, trouble speaking, coordination problems, sleepiness, and confusion. In some cases, although rare, it can lead to long term disability or death.
West Nile virus (WNV) Another virus born illness spread by mosquito bites, which in approximately 80% of all cases, people don't realize they are sick. The symptoms for those who do feel ill may include: fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, sleepiness, swollen lymph glands, and rashes on back, chest, or stomach, lasting a few days to a few weeks. Although rare, some of the more serious symptoms include high fever, neck stiffness, tremors, no energy, disorientation, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision impairment, numbness, coma, and paralysis.
Most of the illnesses caused by bacteria are due to eating contaminated food or drinking water that has been contaminated. These include:
Typhoid fever Symptoms of typhoid fever usually include headache, high fever, cough, loss of appetite, stomach pain and weakness. Some develop diarrhea or constipation and in some cases it can lead to death.
Cholera is another disease caused by unsanitary food and water. It causes diarrhea and in some cases death, because of loss of bodily fluid.
Meningococcal disease is any type of illness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis and is spread through close contact, like kissing or living with someone who is infected. It is very important to attend to symptoms of this quickly.
Viruses and Contagions:
Ebola: Though rare, this is a deadly disease spread by coming in direct contact with bodily fluids of people infected with the Ebola virus or direct contact with infected objects or animals.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) Most people in public service are very aware of this virus which attacks the immune system. It is spread through bodily fluids and sharing needles with someone who is infected with HIV.
Hepatitis A. This type of Hepatitis is a liver disease which can be spread by eating or touching contaminated food or water or by hand contact with another person with the disease.
Diphtheria is spread through sneezing and coughing.
This is a contagious disease spread through coughing, sneezing, talking or by sharing items such as drinks in cans or utensils. Symptoms include fever, aches, loss of appetite and swollen salivary glands in the neck. Occasionally it causes complications in reproductive organs, swelling of the brain, and temporary or permanent deafness.
MERS, or Middle East Respiratory syndrome, has been found in 26 countries besides the United States. Most people who have been infected develop fever shortness of breath and cough. This often leads to death.The most common symptoms of MERS are: shortness of breath, cough and sore throat, fever and chills, chest pain, body aches, diarrhea and headache, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, organ failure, and pneumonia.
The flu (influenza) This is a very contagious reperatory disease, spread by coughing, sneezing or by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) a disease that usually is found in children under 5 years of age. Adults can often be effected too. Symptoms include fever, blisters on mouth and rash. It is usually gone in 7 to 10 days.
HFMD This spreads through close contact, such as hugging or kissing, sneezing or by coughing or touching affected surfaces and touching your nose or mouth.
Measles, a highly contagious disease caused by a virus which is spread through coughing, breathing and sneezing. Measles symptoms include red rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and sometimes diarrhea, pneumonia and other symptoms such as watery eyes and ear infections. I had it everywhere possible, even in my eyes!
African trypanosomiasis or African sleeping sickness is actually caused by a parasite that is spread by the tsetse fly. Symptoms include headaches, high fever, fatigue, and aches. if not treated it may lead to death.