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This website is dedicated to travel fever as in the burning passion for an adventure together, but I am writing about the actual disease kind of travel fever today.
This is about the travel fever that you have a passion to avoid.
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I will talk about precautions to take against getting sick while traveling, how to stay healthy while on your trip and what to do if you become ill.
Right off, I have to say that I am not a medical professional. I couldn’t even pretend to be a medical doctor or nurse because I faint at the site of blood and needles.
So I am speaking from experience and referencing other reputable medical professionals. If you want more information talk to your doctor and read what the experts have to say.
What Is Travel Fever?
As I said, the travel fever in this article is not the itchy feet, restless wandering or burning desire to travel. Travel fever, here, is a true travel bug
Travel related diseases can be mild to very serious. Many families shy away from traveling abroad due to the concern of contracting a serious disease during their travels.
Other times people may actually just get a regular run of the mill sickness from the stress of travel and the close quarters on the airplane. You know, the person who sits next to you and sneezes on you the entire time?
Either way returning with a fever can be very concerning because you don’t know exactly where you contracted it. Especially if you take into account the CDC reports that it may take days or weeks (or in very unusual cases months) for the symptoms to occur.
What Diseases Cause Travel Fever?
Fever can be caused by many diseases from very mild to very serious. Just being on an airplane your family could contract airborne illnesses due to the confined space and limited ventilation.
For example, malaria and dengue exist in 91 tropical countries, cholera can be found in any areas with contaminated drinking water, Tuberculosis is found throughout the world with the highest incidences in Asia and Africa, Polio in Afganistan and Pakistan, and Ebola virus in West Africa.
People traveling to many areas of Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and most of Asia are at risk of developing digestive tract disorders.
Travelers diarrhea can be accompanied by fever and is caused by the stress of traveling, new and different foods, unclean water supplies, or other infectious diseases.
The CDC has an interactive website that you can choose your travel destination and the results will show the infectious diseases by country.
Mosquito diseases are always a big concern for families who like to play outside in warm climates. The Table below shows the types of mosquito diseases worldwide.
Read more about the transmission of mosquito-related diseases here.
The American Family Physician posted a study showing the best defense against mosquito bites is 20% to 50% DEET. They report that the other effective chemical alternatives to DEET include Picaridin and IR3535.
Most of the natural alternatives to DEET were not as effective, with the exception of oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant-based repellent. The authors of the study report that oil of lemon eucalyptus has been shown to have effectiveness and duration of action comparable to DEET.
When I was pregnant with the youngest, we had plans to travel to Costa Rica. This was the same time when the Zika virus was becoming a serious concern in Central America.
My doctor advised me to avoid both mosquito bites and chemical mosquito repellant.
What’s a mom to do? I wore lightweight long clothes that covered my arms and legs. I used essential oil based mosquito repellant and very low-level DEET when necessary.
Of course, I was even more cautious than normal because I was pregnant. Your doctor will help you decide what type of chemical mosquito repellant is right for your family.
I can’t cover every disease in this post so I suggest discussing your travel plans with your doctor and checking the CDC page for more information about protection against mosquitos.
What you can do to stay healthy and avoid travel-related illnesses
I don’t want to scare you away from traveling. After all, this site is dedicated to helping all families travel together more, not less.
Generally staying safe and healthy is a matter of being educated on the health risks associated with traveling and then being prepared.
The doctor will recommend vaccinations and medications that are necessary for travel to your specific destination.
Travel vaccines or immunizations are shots that you receive to protect you from infectious diseases.
Keep in mind some countries will require proof of vaccinations before you enter the country.
Staying Healthy While Traveling
The key to staying healthy is taking care of yourself and avoiding unnecessary risks and exposure to infectious diseases.
You can do many things to stay healthy. All the tips for healthy travel in this post apply to international family travel.
Rest well before traveling, be prepared for last minute changes, eat healthy before and during travel, and relax.
Find ways to cope with the stress of travel. The stress of packing, catching flights, time changes, and just plain exhaustion can decrease your immune system.
So make sure to plan ahead, for your travel days and your adventures during your trip.
Traveling to areas with health risks will require extra planning to stay healthy and comfortable. vaccination.
Our ultimate travel planning guide will help so you don’t forget any details.
A big part of the planning process involves packing your family for the upcoming trip.
Packing for a trip can be overwhelming. Add on the additional concern of travel diseases and you might just throw your hands up and stay home.
You will be the basic things like mosquito repellent, sun block, and more specific things like proof of yellow fever
You can read more about how I pack for a trip and use my packing checklist if you need encouragement and help. The checklist includes over 200 items that should be in your suitcase.
What To Do If You Get Ill After Traveling
Don’t panic but do see your doctor.
People get sick after traveling, for many reasons so there may be nothing more than a common cold coming on.
If you have returned from an international trip you will likely be more concerned than normal. You should get in to see your doctor right away.
If you have been traveling to a country with malaria or other diseases that cause fever you will want to be cautious for a while. The CDC advises you to see your doctor if you develop a fever for a month after you return from a country with malaria.
Also, see your doctor with any of these symptoms:
Digestion tract problems can be a sign of basic upsets from different foods or more serious conditions.
Travelers diarrhea is very common and generally, you should stay hydrated and rest well. Good old chicken soup should be on the menu! Dehydration is the major risk of diarrhea so if you are not able to stay hydrated, work with your doctor for more solutions.
That said, I was traveling with a family member who became very sick with amebic dysentery in the Philippines. We had to stop traveling, have a hotel visit by a doctor and take medication before we could travel again.
So even if you get sick while traveling internationally, get medical help where you are. We did not have to use the medical travel insurance in this instance. The hotel helped us find a doctor and we were in a country with a public medical system.
Had this been more severe we would have needed medical insurance.
Rash or Skin Problems After Traveling
Rashes, boils, bug bites, fungal infections, are common skin problems following international travel.
Generally, skin problems aren’t serious in themselves. But a rash that covers your body or accompanied by a fever, could be a sign of a more serious illness.
For more information about skin rashes and other travel related skin problems, First Derm has a list of 7 rashes to be concerned about.
If you have any concerns about skin problems after traveling you should make an appointment with a dermatologist.
Information For Your Doctor
If you do get sick after traveling, your doctor will want to know as much information about you and your trip as possible. These are a couple of details to remember to be able to help your doctor diagnose if you have contracted an infectious disease or basic run of the mill illness.
- Your travel route to and from your vacation
- Where you went on your trip
- What you did and places, especially rural areas or farms that you visited
- How long you were in each country
- The places you stayed
- What you ate and drank on your vacation
- If you swam in freshwater or the ocean
- If you were bitten by bugs
- Any possible sources of exposure to infectious
diseas, including tattoos and piercings
Of course, the best medicine is prevention. Follow the tips to stay healthy while traveling and avoid travel fever, when possible.
Have you been sick after traveling?
What do you do minimize your risk of exposure to diseases and boost your immune system while traveling?
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