Author: Dr. De Frey
Source: Travel Doctor
The best-laid travel plans can go awry if you fall ill while travelling. By taking the following precautions you can minimise your risk to a great extent …
Prevent insect bites
Many diseases, like Malaria, Dengue and Japanese Encephalitis, are spread through insect bites.
Prevent insect bites by:
- Using insect repellent with 30%-50% DEET.
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat outdoors.
- Remaining indoors in a screened or air-conditioned area during the peak biting period for malaria (between dusk and dawn).
- Sleeping in beds covered by nets treated with permethrin, if not sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room.
- Spraying rooms with products effective against flying insects, such as those containing pyrethroid.
Be careful what you eat and drink
Diseases contracted from contaminated food and water are the leading cause of illness in travellers.
Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid unsafe tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
- When possible do not eat food purchased from street vendors.
- Make sure food is well cooked and still piping hot when consumed.
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurised.
- Diseases from food and water often cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Ensure you take diarrhoea medicine with you for self treatment of mild cases.
Other health tips
- To avoid animal bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague) do not handle or pet animals, especially dogs and cats.
- If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, apply iodine and seek medical attention to determine if mediation or anti-rabies vaccine is needed.
- To avoid infections such as HIV and Viral Hepatitis do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing, or injections.
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, especially on beaches where animals may have defecated.
Upon your return
If you have visited a malaria-risk area, continue taking your malaria prophylaxis after your return as indicated by your doctor. Malaria is always a serious disease even deadly. If you become ill with a fever or a flu-like illness either while travelling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to one year), you should seek immediate medical attention and make sure your doctor is aware of your travel history.