Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Intro to Travel Medicine

If you find yourself in remote and exotic locations around the world it is important for you to know about Travel Medicine and what wee beasties are out there that can cause you harm.

   Travel medicine is devoted to the health and safety of travelers who visit foreign countries. It is a medical specialty concerned not only with prevention of infectious diseases during travel but also with the personal safety of travelers and the avoidance of environmental risks. 

Top nine travel diseases

Traveler’s Diarrhea – This is probably the most common travel illness and unfortunately also one of the most difficult to prevent. It can strike at any time regardless of where you are in the world and even the standard of your accommodation. Staying in a five star hotel doesn't mean that you have access to safe food and water. Reduce your chances of getting diarrhea by only drinking bottled purified water and avoiding fresh fruit, salad and vegetables as they may have been washed in contaminated water. The E. coli bacteria is very sensitive to heat so ensure food is well cooked and piping hot throughout and that all you can eat buffet food should be avoided.
   Treatment: Cipro antibiotics and fluid therapy.

Sun Burn– Especially those of us from Ireland, when you are on holiday to sunny places a high factor sun screens are an absolute must. Too much sun can cause minor sunburn and even second degree burns causing blisters. You can burn through a overcast sky. 
   Treatment: Cool showers, Aloe vera, Moisturizers and Hydration.

Malaria – The insect-borne disease of malaria is a potentially fatal disease which is found in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, Caribbean and parts of Eastern Europe. Check whether your destination is an affected area and get yourself to your doctor or health clinic to stock up on malaria prevention medications. Also arm yourself with plenty of insect repellent lotions and sprays such as preparations that have a high DEET content. Wearing long sleeves and long pants after the sun goes down will help to avoid bites.
   Treatment: Quinine and related agents 

Dengue Fever – This disease carried by mosquitoes as well as malaria. Symptoms of dengue fever included severe flu-like symptoms and muscle and joint pain. Parts of the Caribbean, South Pacific, Asia, Latin America and Africa are affected and the same advice for avoiding mosquitoes applies as above under Malaria.
   Treatment: No drug option. Hydrate or Die.

Norovirus – There have been several outbreaks of the norovirus on board cruise ships lately, as large groups of people in close confines is a breeding ground for the disease. Norovirus is pretty unpleasant with symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but is rarely fatal. The virus spreads through contaminated food and water and food and unfortunately there is no prevention or treatment.
   Treatment: Paracetamol for pain. Hydrate or Die.

Hepatitis A – This is the version more likely to affect travelers, as Hepatitis A is spread through water and uncooked foods. Hepatitis A is classified as an ‘acute liver disease,’ with symptoms including general fatigue, headaches, fever, jaundice and sore muscles. Vaccinations prior to travel are highly recommended, no matter where you’re travelling to, for peace of mind.
   Treatment: No pharmaceutical option.

more information at RemoteMedicine.ie

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