Travel is one of the most enjoyable activities a person can experience. Abroad or within the US, discovering new places, people, and cultures is very enlightening to say the least. But as fun travel can be it is not risk free; crime and the risk of contracting a disease can turn a vacation into a nightmare.
Here are eleven deadly diseases a person can contract by travelling either abroad or within the USA boarders. And don’t get surprised when you learn that the simple act of talking to a sick person can put you at risk! And for those who haven’t got all their vaccines, just stay at home and read our list.
An infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira that occurs in rodents, dogs and other mammals and may be transmitted to people who come into contact with those animals or soil, water, food that is contaminated with their urine and faeces.
The disease begins with a high fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, and skin rash. Moreover it may affect the liver causing jaundice or the kidneys resulting in renal failure; in some cases patients may go on to develop meningitis.
2- Polio and Related Diseases
Before the vaccine was discovered, Polio had haunted the world and had taken the lives of millions. The responsible virus is excreted in the faeces of an infected person there for the disease is mostly common in areas where sanitation is poor. However epidemics can occur in hygienic conditions where individuals have not acquired immunity.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) and Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68) are related to polio. Both are found worldwide. HFMD causes mouth sores and skin rash. It is painful but not deadly. EV-D68 acts like polio. Most people have a stomach “flu,” some need hospitalization, and some develop paralysis and die.
3- Tick-borne Diseases in America
Tick is a bloodsucking parasite belonging to the order of arthropods. Tick bites can cause serious skin lesions and occasionally paralysis. Certain tick species transmit typhus, Lyme disease, relapsing fever, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both are found throughout the US, although RMSF is more common in the west and Lyme in the east.
RMSF symptoms include fever, muscle pains and a profuse reddish rash if untreated the disease may be fatal.
Following 3 to 32 days incubation period Lyme disease patients develop skin rash, fever, malaise, headache and nick stiffness. Later 60% of patients suffer intermittent attacks of arthritis. Neurological and cardiac involvement occur a small percent of people.
4- Tick-borne Diseases in Other Places
Travelling to Russia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and Asia during spring and summer come with a higher risk of contracting Encephalitis. In addition to tick bites, unpasteurized dairy products represent a source of danger.
The disease is marked by headache and drowsiness progressing into a coma which explains its nick name (sleepy sickness).
5- Malaria and Dengue Fever
Other than the annoying sound at night and painful bite mosquitos can carry a certain parasite of the genus Plasmodium. After a mosquito bite, the parasites are then injected into bloodstream and travel to the liver and other organs where they multiply.
The mosquitos responsible for the spread of Malaria are confined mainly to tropical and subtropical areas. After an incubation period of 12 days to 10 months, the patient starts to suffer from short bouts of shivering, fever, and sweating, and the loss of healthy red cells results in anaemia. If untreated, Malaria is fatal.
Dengue Fever is another subtropical/tropical disease that is spread by mosquitos. Symptoms, which last for a few days, include severe pains in the joints and macules, fever, sore throat, and running of the eyes. These symptoms are usually mild but a more severe form of Dengue, Dengue haemorrhagic fever, is deadly.
6- Japanese Encephalitis and Murray Valley Encephalitis
Japanese Encephalitis, common in rural areas of Asia, is inflammation of the brain caused by viral or bacterial infection. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty moving. In its later stages, Japanese Encephalitis causes brain swelling that can lead to a coma and subsequently death.
Murray Valley Encephalitis exits mostly in New Guinea and north-western and south-eastern Australia. Much like its Japanese counterpart, symptoms start with fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. In serious cases though confusion, sleepiness, trouble speaking, lack of coordination and brain infections start to develop and in the absence of treatment long lasting disabilities and death are very likely.
7- Yellow fever and West Nile virus
Mosquitos again come play the role of spreading more diseases: 7. Yellow fever and West Nile virus.
Yellow fever is an infectious disease, caused by Arbovirus, occurring in tropical Africa and northern regions of South America. The disease causes degeneration of the tissues of the liver and kidney. Symptoms, depending on the severity of the infection, chill, headaches, pain in the back and limbs, fever, vomiting, and constipation. If treated well, recovery from the first attack is possible and that boosts immunity against the disease in the future but severe cases can be fatal.
West Nile Fever is caused by flavivirus which exits in Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and North America. Symptoms are influenza like symptoms, enlarged lymph nodes, and bright red rash on the chest and abdomen. In patients with weakened immunity system, it can progress to convulsion, coma and paralysis.
8- Tuberculosis (TB)
Tuberculosis used to be a death sentence; but with the development of antibiotics, it became less frightening. It still exists in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America and antibiotic resistant Tuberculosis is starting to emerge in many areas including the US. There are roughly 9 million new TB cases and 1.5 million TB related deaths annually. TB is unhalted to the lungs where it sets up and spreads to the nearest lymph nodes. Natural immune system may heal it at this stage; otherwise it sets for months or years and fluctuates with the patient’s resistance. Many people get infected but show no symptoms. Others develop a chronic infection and can transmit it by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of the active disease include fever, night sweats, weight loss, and spitting of blood.
An acute virus disease of the central nervous system that affects all warm-blooded animals and is usually transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected dog; but skunks, bats, foxes, mongooses, and raccoons are also common carriers. Symptoms appear after an incubation period of 10 days to over a year and include fever, difficulty in breathing, salivation, periods of intense excitement, and painful muscle spasms of the throat. Any bite or cut by a wild or unvaccinated animal should be taken seriously and immediate treatment is a must.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that tend to appear in epidemics every 2 to 3 years and mainly affects children. Symptoms resembling those of a cold develop, after an incubation period, accompanied with high fever and small red spots with white centres. Symptoms disappear in most cases a recover completely after 2-4 weeks. Severe complications include encephalitis.
Rubella, is non-existent in the US but other regions still report cases, is a mild highly infectious virus infection, mainly of childhood. Causing a wide spread pink rash. The spots disappear after seven days but the patient remains infectious for further 3-4 days. As Rubella can cause fetal malformations during early pregnancy, girls should be immunized before puberty.
Inflammation of the liver caused by viruses, toxic substances, or immunological abnormalities. Six different types of hepatitis have been identified: A and E are transmitted by food or drink contaminated by a carrier commonly where sanitation is poor. Serious complications are unusual. B and C are transmitted by infected blood or blood products, tattooing, sexual contact, or by any other bodily fluid (milk, sweat). Most patients recover gradually but the mortality rate is high. D and G occur after contracting B or C.
No matter where a person travels, there is always a high risk of catching a nasty disease that can turn one’s life upside down or even put an end to it. This list of 11 barley scratches the surface of a vast major diseases lurking around, Hantavirus, plague, various flu strains, HIV just to name a few.
A good research about the areas where a person travels is necessary to know what diseases are common in each area, what vaccination can be taken, and what foods and drinks to avoid.