A travel illness can ruin a dream vacation, which is why you should be sure to get vaccinated or acquire some medication before taking certain far-off journeys. A new report from GetGoing Insurance points out the most common travel illnesses and conditions to take extra precautions for, and some of the most common places real-life travelers get them.
Here are the riskiest spots for several common travel illnesses according to the British medical provider’s own travel insurance claims and government data. The destinations include several bucket-list spots you might not have considered before.
India: The most common travel illness across the globe is traveler’s diarrhea, which GetGoing applies to all of the following countries, and says 20 to 40 percent of travelers experience. Visitors to India are also warned of typhoid and hepatitis A, mainly due to sanitation. If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, it’s worth noting that GetGoing doesn’t mention the serious air pollution problems around many of the world’s biggest cities, including some in India.
Indonesia: Most common illness is hepatitis A and typhoid, the latter of which affects the majority of South Asia, Central and South America, and African nations.
Kenya: Travel illnesses include malaria and dengue, both of which can be contracted through mosquitoes in various places across the globe (see a malaria map here and a dengue map here). Visitors should also get their typhoid and hepatitis A vaccines before traveling to Kenya.
Peru: Most common illnesses are also malaria, dengue, typhoid, and hepatitis A.
Sri Lanka: Most common illnesses are dengue and hepatitis A.
Mexico: Most common illnesses are also dengue and hepatitis A.
Dominican Republic: Most common illnesses are typhoid, dengue, and hepatitis A.
South Africa: Most common illnesses are typhoid and hepatitis A.
Cuba: Most common illnesses include hepatitis A.
Egypt: Most common illnesses are typhoid and hepatitis A.
Yellow fever is notably absent from most of these destinations, but has a presence in parts of South America like Brazil and Colombia, as well as Nigeria, Ghana, and Trinidad and Tobago. There is a vaccine for it.
The report also cites malaria as a widespread and very dangerous disease that currently lacks an effective vaccine. Malaria risk areas include the majority of Africa and Asia, plus parts of the Middle East, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Among the less serious but still annoying risks are altitude sickness, sunburn, and jellyfish stings.
Sources of travel illnesses include contaminated food, contaminated water and ice, handling cash, poor sanitation, human contact, and insect bites. GetGoing also suggests travelers generally stick to bottled water, avoid ice and undercooked meat, use a sunscreen and insect repellent, wash hands before eating, make sure vaccines are current, and carry over-the-counter remedies like those for diarrhea and motion sickness.
The take-away? You can still visit these countries and remain healthy as long as you know how to avoid the major risks.
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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.