After Cheryl Cole's recent bout of Malaria, everyone has been telling us to ensure we take the correct medication when going abroad, and have all necessary vaccinations. I must admit, I've always hated having my jabs...just reading about these tropical illnesses is definately enough to make me get checked out, though!
Malaria is a disease that is spread through mosquito bites. It can be fatal, although this is unlikely, but it's so easy to prevent! Start a course of anti-malaria tablets just before you leave, in accordance to the instructions. Do everything you can to prevent bites in the first place, including using mosquito nets, and insect repellant. If you think you may have caught malaria, tell your doctor immediately, and tell them exactly where you visited.
Cholera is mainly found in India, and prevents itself as severe diarrhea and vomiting, thirst and muscle cramps. It can be fatal if untreated, with a mortality rate of more then 50%! Protect yourself by having the vaccine if you are going to an at-risk country, and by drinking bottled water. You catch cholera through eating food or water that has been infected, so be cautious about where and what you choose to consume.
Yellow Fever is a noncontagious disease, which is characterized by jaundice and a very high fever. Monkeys and humans alike can suffer from this, and it is thought infection is spread through mosquitos. The same precautions for malaria can be followed to lower risk, but there is also a Yellow Fever vaccine which is compulsorary for most countries.
Another disease spread through mosquitos, Dengue fever is caused by four very similar viruses. It presents itself as a severe, flu like fever, and can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms usually include a high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, muscles and a rash. It can lead to circulation problems, including the enlargement of the liver. Ouch! Take preventative measures against mosquito bites, and seek medical help immediately if you start to show symptoms.
This is a parasitic disease which is spread through drinking infected water. It tends to affect the digestive system, with the symptoms varying depending on which of five flatworms you become infected with. Generally, bloody urine or stools will be present. It is found in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, the Carribbean, and South East Asia, and is best prevented by drinking bottled water.
Ebola is prevalant in African countries, and is a deadly disease caused by a virus. Symptoms are similar to that of the flu, including a sore throat, headache and high temperature. The infection usually leads to dehydration and can cause delirium, and if untreated causes internal bleeding. It is harder to prevent Ebola due to it's cause, but avoiding contact with anyone suffering from the virus is usually effective. See a doctor immediatly if you think you may have been exposed, as mortality rates can be as high as 90%.
Sleeping sickness is spread through the tsetse fly, and is common in Saharan Africa. The first symptom is usually a sore appearing on the bite spot, followed by fever, an itchy rash, headaches, mental confusion, swelling of the lymph nodes and eventually exhaustion; characterized by slurred speech, slow mental processes and the patient sitting and staring for extended periods. Untreated, it can cause death. Protect yourself by using insect repellant, and sleeping under a bug net. Only sleep in sanitary accommodation, and avoiding bushes or open top cars which attract the bug.
Well, I'll definately be getting a full medical check before I go away, and when I get back, and I'll make sure I get my jabs too! After all, a moments pain is so worth it to not catch some of these...they make me feel quite ill! Have I missed a tropical illness, or have you caught one of these? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: tux-penguin
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