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Health safety when travelling to tropical areas


Tropical areas and Health risks

Travelling abroad, especially to tropical areas, can pose a serious risk to travellers' health, who may contract several different diseases, known as tropical diseases, which occur only or principally in hot humid countries. That's why it is important that travellers are adequately prepared before their departure: awareness and prevention are the cornerstones of a safe trip.

Tropical diseases include many well known infectious diseases, such as malaria, filariasis, leishmaniasis, yellow fever, typhoid fever and many other insect-borne, food-borne and water-borne diseases. Actually the list of diseases that can be contracted when travelling to tropical areas is almost endless. So here we will focus on how to prevent and possibly treat tropical diseases in general terms.

Vaccination when travelling to Tropical areas

 First of all, it is essential to get informed about the vaccinations required for travel to a specific tropical country. If one or more vaccines are required or recommended, it is advisable to take them at least six weeks before departure to ensure the highest immune protection. Travellers going to countries at risk for malaria should take with them specific antimalarial medicines which can be prescribed by their doctor.

Antimalarial medicines, which are intended either to prevent or treat malaria infections caused by mosquito bites, should be purchased before leaving the home country and taken according to the doctor's instruction. It would be also wise to take with oneself other prescription medicines or over-the-counter products, including antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, antacids for stomach upset, as well as cold, cough, allergy and pain medicines.

Preventive measures in Tropical areas

While travelling, people should follow some preventive measures to avoid tropical diseases.

Insect-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and leishmaniasis can be prevented by protecting oneself against insect stings with insect repellents or protective clothing. Food-borne and water-borne diseases such as travelers' diarrhea, typhoid fever and leptospirosis can be prevented by paying extremely close attention to the choice of foods, beverages and drinking water.

In this respect, the most effective preventive measures include  eating well-cooked foods, peeling one's own fruits, avoiding street vendor foods, unpasteurized milk products and raw meat and/or fish, drinking water only from sealed bottles or other known safe sources and avoiding the use of ice cubes to chill water or other beverages.

Tropical areas and Water

It is also important to avoid swimming or bathing in potentially contaminated waters, such as lakes and rivers, through which certain infectious or parasitic diseases can be transmitted (e.g.: leptospirosis, an infectious disease transmitted by rat urine and particularly widespread in tropical areas; schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease widespread in Africa).

 Finally, it is essential to get informed in advance about the hospitals, clinics or other health care services that are closest to the location of travel, as well as it is advisable to purchase enough international health insurance to cover the cost of possible medical treatments in the destination country.


People travelling to tropical areas are particularly susceptible to local disease and they should consider being covered by an appropriate International health insurance plan or travel insurance plan.

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Always seek professional medical advise from a qualified doctor before undergoing any treatment.