Long-haul sick notes: what you can get and how not to get it

Malaria is caused by parasitic protozoans: single-cell bugs in the red blood cells, transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes, and is one of the major health threats to travellers. Travellers visiting malarial areas can take malaria chemoprophylaxis drugs but they do not give 100 per cent protection. (Many also have unpredictable and unpleasant side-effects, but malaria is worse than all of these.) The best thing to do is avoid being bitten. Wear insect repellent and sleep under nets where possible.

Typhoid is mostly transmitted through contaminated food or water: travellers to India and Pakistan in particular are advised to take precautions. A vaccine is available, but good hygiene habits - clean and boil or thoroughly cook everything you eat and drink - is important.

Hepatitis A is the commonest preventable disease caught by tourists. It is most commonly transmitted in water or uncooked food - boiling kills the bug. Recovery from the disease is long - up to 18 months. The death rate increases with age. Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for people visiting Africa, much of Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East.

Encephalitis is carried by biting ticks which proliferate in heavily forested, humid regions. A vaccine is available which can give long-term protection, although insect repellents reduce the risk of being bitten.

Japanese B encephalitis is a strain of the disease carried by infected mosquitoes in parts of Asia. It is preventable with a vaccine.

Non-paralytic polio is rare among travellers - 0.7 cases for every 30,000 to 100,000 travellers - and is prevented by use of vaccine.

Cholera is becoming a big problem in parts of South America: it is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria and symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting and severe diarrhoea. There is only a handful of cases each year among people in the UK, and current advice is to follow the traveller's hygiene code, paying special attention to procuring safe water supplies.

Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne infection, can be fatal, and has spread from Central and South America to parts of the US. There is no specific treatment or vaccine. Best to avoid being bitten; see Malaria.

Yellow fever is another mosquito-borne infection and is endemic in regions of Africa and South America. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain and jaundice. A vaccine is available which gives long-term protection.

Travellers' diarrhoea is one of the most common afflictions, affecting around 40 per cent of people. Good hygiene standards can help: use bottled water and, don't eat or drink anything you can't boil, roast or peel. In cases of severe diarrhoea it is important to rehydrate the body.

HIV and hepatitis B are two behavioural risks for travellers. Both are most commonly transmitted by sexual contact and by intravenous drug use. Safe sex is strongly recommended. A vaccine is available for Hepatitis B.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Part Time Carer / Support Worker plus Bank Support

    £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A delightful, 11 year old boy who lives in t...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Furniture Installer / Driver

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Furniture Installer /...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - North West - OTE £40k

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: SQL DBA - Croydon - up to £65,000

    £58000 - £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA - Bromley, South East London...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor