Travelling abroad can expose you to diseases that aren’t present in the UK, such as yellow fever, malaria and rabies. These are common in some regions of the world that are now frequent holiday destinations. Many infectious diseases are transmitted through contaminated food and water and insect bites.
Using some common sense can often prevent problems. For example, using bottled water in countries with poor sanitation. Being aware that the malaria mosquitoes bite between dusk and dawn and Yellow Fever ones during the day.
The following infectious diseases can affect UK travellers:
- Hepatitis A and Typhoid – spread by contaminated food and water.
- Yellow fever, Malaria and Dengue Fever – spread by mosquito bites.
- HIV, STIs and Hepatitis B – spread through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, contaminated needles (incl. tattoo needles) and poorly sterilised medical and dental equipment.
- Rabies – A virus that attacks the central nervous system. The virus is found in the saliva of infected animals.
- Meningitis – Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and the spinal column caused by different types of bacteria and viruses.
There is plenty of information out there about where you are travelling to and what precautions and vaccinations you may need which will help reduce your exposure to these infections. A few good sites are:
www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk A very good NHS run site.
www.travelhealth.co.uk An independent travel site.
www.nathnac.org/travel/index.htm National Travel Health Network, including advice about Yellow Fever.