Thursday 18 July 2024

What Travellers Should Know About Tropical Diseases

In many areas of the world, we could still find people who live in an appalling or even absolutely shocking condition. In these places, various diseases are still rampant, especially in tropical environments, where the humid, wet and warm climate makes microorganism thrive easily. Despite the brave and valiant efforts of local governments, tropical diseases are still adversaries of people who live in tropical areas. In developing countries, many people are still dying due to these diseases. This still happens, despite the significant progress in medicine and overall understanding of diseases.

Travellers should be aware that some diseases, like tuberculosis and measles may still be a huge problem and death rates from mosquito-transmitted diseases, like dengue and malaria may still be quite high. Leprosy may still be prevalent in some areas and it is important to ask locals about the recent epidemics.

Other than common tropical diseases, like malaria and dengue; there are others that may affect travellers such as sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis, Hansens’s disease, leishmaniasis and filariasis. However, malaria could still be the biggest killer in many areas. There have been plenty of efforts to introduce vaccines against malaria, but we may yet to see some success. It is still quite difficult to prevent the widespread infection caused by the anopheles mosquito.

When travelling to a tropical country, we should also check whether a disease called schistosomiasis is present in the area. It is also known as Bilharzias and caused by a species of worm that infest our intestines, bladder and liver. When fully grown inside our body, we will feel very unpleasant symptoms and in some cases, this disease can be fatal.

Schistosomiasis is also very contagious, because eggs of the worm will be present in both feces and urine. These eggs have strong shells that can penetrate our skin and it will pass into the bloodstream. Travellers may come into contact with this disease when they walk in contaminated water. If we travel in an area with cases of schistosomiasis, we should avoid pools of dirty water and muddy areas.

Sleeping sickness affects people through the tsetse fly and the insect passes the parasite into our brain and blood. Unfortunately, there is still no vaccine for this disease and when visiting some game parks in the area, we should take some precautions against insect bites. As an example, we could limit the area of exposed skin and we need to use insect repellent products on exposed areas of the skin. In the past, the disease has become so serious that some areas in Africa were virtually inhabitable.

Leprosy or Hansen’s disease still affects many people around the world, including in tropical countries. We may need to be aware that there is no vaccine for leprosy and this disease could still cause numerous disabilities, such as physical deformity, blindness and paralysis. There’s also an age-old social stigma associated with leprosy sufferers. Regardless of what country we visit, whether it is developed or not, we should check details about local diseases.