When planning your trip, keep in mind these simple expert recommendations to avoid some of traveler's diseases, common to climate and food changes. No traveler escape from the risk of contracting endemic disease or those caused by food and climate changes.
Care varies according to age, gender and health status. As well, preventive measures depend on the destination, trip duration and activities to be developed. Dr. Alfonso Rodríguez-Morales, specialist doctor in traveler's medicine and president of the Committee of Traveler's Medicine of the Pan-American Society of Infectious Diseases, points out some recommendations easy to accomplish in order to avoid any pain during holidays.
Diseases related to indigestion or gastrointestinal infections
- Wash hands using soap and water or alcohol always before eating and after going to the bathroom.
- Make sure the food is well cooked, recently prepared and hot.
- Wash fruit with potable water and, if possible, eat it without the peel.
- Drink only bottled or boiled drinks.
- In reference to the consumption of dairy products, these ones must be industrially prepared.
- Avoid eating raw vegetables, meat, fish and seafood to avoid the risk of infections due to certain bacteria, viruses and parasites.
- Avoid the consumption of street-made food under low sanitary control (i.e. street vendors).
- Have preference for beverages prepared with boiled water, such as tea and coffee.
- Do not use ice in drinks, unless been sure that this has been made with potable water.
'African countries present higher risk for any endemic disease. They have registered a greater record of malaria cases and deaths and other tropical diseases. In Latin America, countries which are part of the Amazon rainforest (Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Guyanas) require special care’, states Rodríguez-Morales. If you travel to a country where there is an endemic disease or tropical disease that is transmitted by vectors (mosquito bites), it is recommendable to follow these preventive measures:
- Use insect repellents, mosquito nets or mosquito nets coated with insecticide.
- If you travel to a region where malaria is common, consult your doctor before you depart if you should take medication to prevent the disease (these medicines are taken before leaving, during the trip and a short period after the return).
- Use trousers and long-sleeve shirts.
- Avoid having baths in rivers, streams or lakes that contain waste or standing water.
Before choosing the destination, search information about each country's health conditions and if taking a vaccine is required before entering the country. If this is the case, visit your doctor and ask him how much time in advance the vaccine must be taken. The countries that require these vaccines reduce the possibility of getting the disease and also to transmit it during the stay. In some cases, some vaccines require reinforcement (such as, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, influenza, measles, mumps, yellow fever). As well, please note that:
- The yellow fever vaccine is required to enter in several sub-Saharan and Central African and some South-American countries.
- The meningococcal vaccine is required to enter in some countries, among them Arabia.
For a complete list of each country requirements, is recommendable to check the World Health Organization (WHO) page. You can also check the page of the International Society of Traveler's Medicine. Dr. Rodriguez indicates that the best is to consult a doctor before traveling and after returning. It is possible to contract some diseases the trip remains asymptomatic during the first few days and that later may be developed. An early diagnostic can guarantee the effectiveness of the treatment and the avoidance of its transmission to other family members or community (in case of a contagious disease).
In any case, look for medical attention if:
- More than 2 days diarrhea.
- High fever or dehydration.
- Any abnormal symptoms.