Four Travel Buddies You Want to Avoid

You might think you already know this guy or girl.  You know the stereotypes.  We have the stinker, snorer, snoozie-nooner, party guy, captain go-go-go, no-doe, and the travel guru to name a few.   Great, but I’m not talking about any of them.

I’m talking about a different kind of travel buddy that you will want to avoid at all cost.  I’m talking about something so opportunistic that it gives a whole new meaning to the word “mooch”.  These guys aren’t your buddy at all.  These guys are true parasites.

1.) Giardia Lamblia – Topping our list as one of the most common is this guy.  He might have you go-go-go but it’s always to the same place, the toilet.

Somewhere along the trail you came into contact with infected feces, ut-oh.  Most likely it was in the form of contaminated food or water.  The Route of infection, fecal-oral – eww!

If your traveling in developing countries where poor sanitary conditions, water quality control and overcrowding are prevalent then you are at increased risk.

Also at risk are campers and backpackers.  This is particularly true in mountainous regions where streams can be infected with human or animal waste and carry Giardia cysts (resting stage).  Always treat your water.

Once you ingest the cysts the acid in your stomach activates the cysts and releases trophozoites (active form of parasite in your body).  From this point it’s all fun and games for the parasite as it attaches to your small intestine and starts to reproduce.  As you pass feces it now contains more cysts waiting to reinfect another.

In the meantime you are blessed with sudden explosive foul smelling diarrhea, excessive gas, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, tiredness and loss of appetite.  When you think about the parasites method of infection your symptoms are great for its survival and desired goal to find more human hosts.

Preventive Measures for Travelers –  Practice good hygiene, follow food and water precautions (appropriate water filtering), avoid accidental water intake during swimming.

Fun History –  Giardia is often referred to as “Beaver Fever” due to the high occurrence of campers getting the disease from drinking contaminated water inhabited by beavers.

2.)  Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous – This next one is going to have you feeling like the stinker.  Why?  Because once people catch site of your ugly lesions they are gonna avoid you like the plague.

This travel buddy can be picked up in southern Europe as well parts of the tropics and subtropics.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 90% of the world’s cases of CL occur in eight countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria (Old World); and Brazil and Peru (New World).  Over 75% U.S. civilian cases are acquired in Latin America, including popular tourist destinations such as Costa Rica.

Travelers at increased risk for CL include adventure travelers, bird watchers, ecotourists, missionaries, Peace Corps volunteers, soldiers and anyone doing research outdoors particularly at night.

The vector-borne culprit is an infected female phlebotomine sand fly.  Risk for infection is highest from dusk to dawn as they are night feeders.  Although less active in the day, they may bite unsuspecting hikers that brush against tree trunks or other resting places.

The event of infection can go completely unnoticed.  Sand flies make no buzzing noise, are about 1/3 the size of mosquitoes and don’t have a wicked mean bite.  It’s what comes after that will remind you of your friendly new travel buddy.

Preventive Measures for Travelers –  Reduce contact with sand flies.  Avoid outdoor activities especially during the hours from dusk till dawn.  Wear protective clothing and barriers.  Use a repellent with DEET.

Fun History– That was the good kind.  Visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azar or black fever is the most severe form of leishmaniasis.  If left untreated it will certainly cause death.  Here’s the bad news,  the World Health Oganization reports that in southern Sudan, “the number of cases from September 2009 until now is more than six times higher than in 2007-08.” and “more than 6,000 people have been infected and over 300 have died in the last year.”

3.)  Malaria – genus: Plasmodium The good old standby.  If you travel abroad, come home and fall ill everyone will be quick to say “you probably have Malaria”.  So do you?

According to the CDC there are about 1,500 cases of Malaria in the U.S each year, mostly from returned travelers.  Sub-Saharan Africa travelers are at the greatest risk for both getting malaria and dying from the infection.  However, any country where malaria is present results in a risk for travelers.

A great tool for you to use is the CDC Malaria Map Application.  Users can search a interactive map and get information about malaria endemicity in any particular region.  What’s great is it recommended medications for malaria prevention for that particular area.

Mosquitoes are the culprit carrying the parasite that causes Malaria.  Mosquitoes are also the thing you want to avoid to avoid picking up this new travel buddy.  Can you imagine that, heading out camping realizing there was a real legitimate risk of contracting Malaria.  People in the States often joke, “Probably got Malaria” after being bit a bunch but we don’t really think we have it.

But what if the circumstances are right?  You were in a high risk area, you got bit by mosquitoes.  Did you know you could come down with symptoms up to a year later.  Anyone that has traveled abroad should seek immediate medical attention up to a year after any possible exposure if symptoms present.  Malaria is always a serious illness and sometimes deadly.  Symptoms of Malaria include fever and a flu like illness.

Preventative Measures for Travelers –   Avoid contact with mosquito bites through the usual means including protective clothing, repellents, insecticide treated bed nets, etc.  If you know you are traveling into a high risk area you should consider bringing malaria prevention medicines.  Consult the Malaria information by country table list to see the CDC-recommended options.

Bringing your own medicine will give you some peace of mind and in the event you are diagnosed with Malaria abroad.  This will ensure you have immediate access to an appropriate high quality anti-malarial treatment plan.  Not doing so could leave you in a bad situation.  In some countries where Malaria is present it is not unheard of to receive counterfeit or sub-standard drug treatment.

Fun History – The word “malaria” comes from the Italian mala aria, and means “bad air.” It was believed that malaria was actually caused by breathing in bad air-namely, foul vapors emanating from swamps, latrines, and so on. The stagnant water provided a breeding ground for mosquitoes which was actually the responsible culprit capable of spreading the parasite.

4.)  Ascaris lumbricoides– This is the largest nematode (roundworm) that can parasitize the human intestine and it’s also the most common.  This thing can actually grow 5 to 35 inches long and produce more than 200,000 eggs per day inside the body.

Infection occurs worldwide but is most common in tropical and subtropical areas.  Developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are poor result in higher risk.

Ascaris Infection occurs when a person accidentaly ingest ascaris eggs found in soil.  Common routes of infection include contaminated food or touching your mouth with your hands after coming into contact with the eggs.

Once in the small intestine the eggs hatch into immature worms.  The larvae migrate to the lungs and then to the throat where they are swallowed. When they reach the intestines they develop into adult worms.  The adult female is responsible for laying eggs which will eventually pass into ones feces.

Symptoms can be mild (adominal discomfort) to none.  Slow weight gain or growth is often associated with Ascaris infection.  If your thinking this sounds like a great way to lose way think again.  Heavy worm infections have been known to cause a intestinal blockage.

Preventative Measures for Travelers– Telling you to avoid contact with soil that may contain human feces sounds redicoulous but make sure you do this.  If possible don’t deficate outdoors.  Always dispose of diapers properly.  Wash hands with soap and water before handling food and avoid any food that may be contaminated with soil.  Wash, peel or cook your food throughly before consumption.

Fun History–  Has anyone heard of the  new weight loss craze in Hong Kong?  Apparently, certain Chinese-language websites have been promoting the use of products that contain Ascaris worm eggs with the promise of fast weight loss.  Did you see what I said at the start of this article, these things can grow up to 35 inches long.  Don’t do It!

Aside from the obvious gross factor these worms can cause serious complications including death.  No more needs to be said.

BONUS BUG) Bed Bugs (Cimex lectularius) – These guys are the real travel gurus.  If they talked you would likely get a earful of how they traveled harder, further and just plain better then you ever did.

You would likely hear stories of how they hopped one backpack in a crowded metro car to another and then got a free stay in a 4 star hotel after two nights bumming in some filthy flat.  The next day they decided to travel again with some complete stranger they picked up in bed and ended up on a 7 day cruise.  Not ready to go home yet they hopped bags at luggage in the airport and were on their way to Tahiti.  Wow, What a life.

For more on Bed Bugs please visit our full post on Bed Bugs and Traveling.

Bonus Fun About Parasites– Did you know most parasites need a host, often more than one different kind to complete thier life cycle.  Check out this cool video on how the clever parasite gets it done.

Travel Health: Useful medical information for good health before, during your trip and after

The diseases most commonly seen in travellers are diarrhoea, malaria (if you travel in a malaria-infested area),
accidents (when travelling by car or swimming), wound infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

— Diarrhoea is caused by contaminated food and drinking-water. You must therefore be careful if your are travelling in poor hygiene conditions.

— Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, so the first thing to do is to protect yourself against these mosquitoes.

— In order to prevent accidents during travelling, it is wise to apply the same precautions as those taken at home.

In addition, it is very important that all wounds should be thoroughly disinfected in order to avoid infection.

· TRAVELLER’S DIARRHOEA

Many intestinal infections are attributable to infections picked up by mouth or hands. With a little care most of
these illnesses can be prevented. Hepatitis A, typhoid fever, polio and cholera still occur in countries with poor
hygiene, but these diseases are easily prevented.

However, the chance is rather large that you will still contract a light and/or nondangerous form of traveller’s diarrhoea.
Traveller’s diarrhoea almost always spontaneously clears up after a few days, but can nevertheless be irritating.
And a risk to your overall and travel health.

In the first place measures must be taken against dehydration. Likewise, treatment of the symptoms must be considered
in order to reduce the number of bowel movements and relieve other symptoms such as fever, vomiting and stomach cramps.
Sometimes a more serious form of diarrhoea occurs, for which specific treatment with antibiotics is indicated or where
hospitalisation or fluid replacement appears unavoidable.

It takes only a few basic preventive measures to make your trip a success : Total prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea is
impossible and it is obvious that preventive measures can seldom be strictly followed at all times.
But following preventive measures do significantly reduce the risk of contracting serious diarrhoea:
In order to maintain good travel health wash your hands before eating and avoid (if possible) :

— raw vegetables and fruits that you have not peeled yourself

— uncooked or unpasteurized dairy products

— insufficiently cooked sea foods (+ Hepatitis A !) and meat

— “local meals” which do not smell fresh

— ice-cream bought from street merchants (industrial ice straight from the deep-freeze is probably safe).

Cooked meals should be served hot. The place where you eat is also important. A meal taken from a stall presents a
greater risk than a meal taken in a restaurant. Avoid restaurants where there are a lot of insects.
Avoid tap water and ice-cubes. Bottled water and soft drinks are safe. Watch out for bottle caps that have already been used.

It is very important to disinfect drinking-water on adventure trips. Total sterilisation of drinking water is impossible.
The following measures considerably reduce the contamination risk and safeguard your travel health:

— Boiling the water is very effective.

— A good alternative is chemical disinfection with chlorine drops (e.g. Hadex®, Drinkwell chloor®; available in sport shops
specialized in outdoor activities) or chlorine tablets (Certisil Combina®; chloramine tablets; available at the
pharmacy). Their effect can be improved by first filtering unclear water. Silver salts (Micropur®, Certisil Argento®) are
not very suitable to disinfect water, but they keep disinfected water germ-free for a long time.

For adventurous travellers conscious to travel health it is best to buy a portable water-filter. The use of antibiotics
in order to prevent diarrhoea before it occurs can be dangerous + Also the use of other preventive medications is not
recommended.

. How to treat diarrhoea?

It is extremely important to consume sufficient liquid and salt in order to prevent dehydration. You can do this by
taking salt solutions, but tea with lemon, broth, soft drinks and fruit juice, supplemented with salt crackers are tastier.
Commercial salt products are available on the market (ORS-solution).

Taking an anti-diarrhoea preparation (loperamide, e.g. Imodium®) can greatly reduce the number of bowel movements, with
a considerable reduction of the complaints as a result. Imodium® may only be used by adults and older children and only
for treating ordinary watery diarrhoea: 1 capsule after every loose movement up to a maximum of 4 per day.

Antibiotics are indicated :

1. If blood, mucus or pus are present in the stools.

2. If after 24 to 48 hours, there is no sign of improvement and the diarrhoea is accompanied by fever (above 38.5 C) or
severe abdominal cramps, or if there are more than six stools per 24 hours and especially when these also occur
at night.

3. Or if because of travel circumstances a quicker solution is absolutely desirable . Appropriate antibiotics are only
to be used on doctor’s prescription

· SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

Casual sexual contacts tend to be higher while on holiday abroad. Sexually transmitted diseases, particularly AIDS, form
therefore an important risk for travellers.
Quite often unintentional and unsafe sexual contact takes place under alcohol influence.
Prevention while on holiday abroad is no different from the precautions you take at home. Adequate use of a condom,
preferably bought at home, is absolutely essential. Only a water-soluble lubricant should be used, but it only offers
a partial guarantee (e.g. KY gel).
Vaccination against hepatitis B is advised. Always consult your doctor if you think you are at risk, even when there are
no symptoms.

· MALARIA (swamp fever, malaria)

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a parasite (called Plasmodium) transmitted by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito.
There are four different types of which Malaria falciparum is the most dangerous and the most widespread.
The incubation period – the time between an infecting bite and the appearance of the disease – varies from ten days to four
weeks (rarely several months).

The symptoms include attacks of fever, but can initially be quite similar to influenza.
If adequate treatment is not started in time, an attack may sometimes result in death within a few days.

. Where does malaria occur?

Malaria only occurs in those areas in which Anopheles mosquitoes are present : in the tropics and in a large number of
subtropical areas. From a height of 1.500 to 2.500 m onwards, depending on temperature and climate, Anopheles mosquitoes
are either rare or non-existent.

In most big cities there is little or no risk at all of infection, except in Africa where a real risk exists.

Risk also exists in the suburbs of the big cities in Asia (e.g. in India). In a number of areas the risk varies according
to the season.

. How can malaria be prevented?

It is very important for travel health to avoid mosquito bites : the Anopheles mosquito only bites between dusk and dawn,
is rather small and hardly makes any noise.

— In the evening wear light-coloured clothing which covers your arms and legs as much as possible. Apply repellent cream
with a DEET basis (20 to 50%, for children and pregnant women preferably 20 to 30%) to the uncovered parts of your body.
Repeat this every four to six hours (it will not protect you all night).
Non containing DEET repellents were less examined; Autan-Active and Mosegor are however excellent safe products.

— Sleep in rooms that leave no access to mosquitoes, (mosquito nets on the sills, electrically-warmed anti-mosquito plates,
air-conditioning) or sleep under a mosquito net impregnated with permethrine or deltamethrine hung over the bed with the
edges tucked under the mattress.

If these measures are carried out correctly, the risk of malaria will be reduced by 80 to 90% and travel health is maintained

. The intake of pills as prevention

There is no drug efficient enough to prevent malaria 100%, which means that quite often a combination of measures is
preferable. Also the drugs used have changed over the years.
Moreover, the advantages and disadvantages of drugs should be considered against the risk of malaria infection.
These risks are dependent on the visited country, and on the region, the season, the duration of your stay and the kind
of trip.

Some people might be troubled by the side effects while taking antimalarial drugs. These are usually mild and are not
always a reason to stop taking the pills. Sometimes it may be necessary to change to another type of medication due to
intestinal problems, allergic reactions or other intolerance symptoms.

Therefore it is the doctor who can best decide for each individual which drug to use. This explains why individuals from
the same group may end up taking different drugs.

Finally, as no drug is 100% effective in preventing malaria, it is important that if an attack of fever occurs in the
first three months after your return from the tropics, a malaria infection should be considered as a possibility despite
the correct use of the drug prescribed.

However, it is reassuring to know that malaria, provided it is recognised in time, is easy to treat without any danger of
recurrent attacks. The belief that “once malaria always malaria” is totally untrue.

You can find even more travel health tips in the next pages:

DISEASES FOR WHICH VACCINATIONS ARE AVAILABLE

MORE TRAVEL HEALTH TIPS

CAUTION: The information provided here should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or for the
treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for any and all medical conditions.
Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

9 New Security Measures For Flights and How They Will Affect You

A lot has happened in the last few days to change the way that we all will be travelling in the future. There will be new security measures for flights based on these recent incidents.

Firstly, I am sure you all have heard or read about the 23-year old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly attempted to blow up a plane he was on as it neared Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day. He had a peroxide-based bomb attached to his body, and when he detonated it, the bomb, thank God, sparked a fire instead of an explosion.

The Nigerian man had told fellow passengers that he felt sick, and pulled a blanket up around his body and neck, and proceeded to ignite the bomb that was stored in his underwear. Pops were heard and smoke was seen. Quick action by the flight crew and passengers subdued Abdulmutallab. All ended up safe at the end of this flight with the exception of Abdulmutallab, who is reported to have suffered third-degree burns.

Then, two days later a man from Florida, 67-year old Thomas Ouellette, reportedly brought a pyrotechnic device onto his flight that landed in NYC’s LaGuardia Airport last Sunday night.

The question is: How will these new security measures for flights affect the rest of us when we travel?

According to a report on CNN today, U.S. Travel and Security Authorities, international airlines and airports, and aviation organizations have all moved quickly to implement a range of new security measures for flights that will impact travellers’ normal routines.

At present, only flights to the U.S. are affected. Passengers can expect to see extra security “at international airports such as increased gate screening including pat-downs and bag searches. During flight, passengers will be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight”, stated The Transportation Security Administration.

New security measures for flights include the following for the last hour of flight over U.S. Territory:

  • Passengers will not be allowed to leave their seats for the bathroom
  • No access to luggage, especially in the overhead area
  • Not able to keep blankets or pillows on your lap
  • Bans on using laptops and MP3 players
  • Restriction for the use of cabin phones

Additional New security measures for flights include the following:

  • Arrive at the airport at least three hours before your flight
  • Be prepared for longer wait times to clear security
  • Be prepared for pat-downs from security and individual airline security personnel
  • Be prepared for additional inspection of carry-on baggage and personal items before boarding your flight

The Detroit incident has shown a hole in airport security measures. Could the next step possibly be a ban on all hand luggage, including handbags and purses?

As of today this is what some airlines are telling their passengers about the new security measures for flights:

British Airways is advising all passengers travelling to the States to minimize hand luggage to only one piece. Holiday presents that are wrapped will be opened and inspected.

Cathay Pacific is advising their passengers to expect pat-downs from security and inspection of carry-on baggage and personal items before boarding the plane. Also, the use of cabin phones will be restricted at all times during the flight.

American Airlines advises all passengers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before the flight to allow for added security checks.

Our take on the new security measures for flights? We would rather be safe than sorry…..if it takes extra time to be cleared through Security – so what? If it turns out that you have an extra hour to wait for your flight, get something to eat (it might be better than the food on the plane anyway), make those last good-bye phone calls, start reading your book, take time to talk to your travel partner, go to the bathroom an extra time for good measure.

To sum it up: Arrive early, have your paperwork including passport ready, a tight grip on your patience, be cooperative…..and remember, smile, smile, smile.