Altitude sickness is caused when a person fails to acclimatise properly and therefore does not receive enough oxygen. Although at altitude there is the same amount of Oxygen in the air, the oxygen pressure in the air drops (thin air) and therefore the lungs are unable to take on as much oxygen as the body requires to function normally.More Information >
Cholera epidemics typically happen in areas where there are lots of people with very poor hygiene facilities (particularly slums and refugee camps) and areas affected by floods and rainy seasons. Most travellers should experience minimal risk of exposure to Cholera but the risk is far greater for emergency relief and health workers in refugee camps. There is an effective vaccine available for Cholera administered orally in two doses one to six weeks apart.More Information >
Chiqungunya is a mosquito-borne viral infection carried by the Aedes Mosquito. These mosquitos are most active during the daytime hours and around dawn and dusk. When an Aedes mosquito feeds on the blood of a person infected with chikungunya, the virus is transmitted to the mosquito. Within 8 to 10 days the mosquito can then transmit the virus to another person and is able to do this for the rest of its life. Infection cannot be spread directly from one person to another. These mosquitoes can find indoor breeding sites, including flower vases and water storage tanks in bathrooms, as well as outdoor buckets containers and plant pots.
Symptoms can present between 4-8 days for symptoms to develop. Typical symptoms begin with rapid onset of severe joint pains of the back and knees. Other symptoms include high fever, headache, nausea, fatigue, muscle pain and skin rash. Infection is very rarely fatal. Most people make a full recovery but joint pain may persist for several months or years. A person who has recovered from chikungunya infection is likely to have lifelong immunity against repeated infection.
There is no vaccine or drug to prevent chikungunya infection. Mosquito bite prevention is the only way to prevent and reduce the risk of infection.Read the Chikungunya blog >
Dengue fever is a mosquito borne infection. It is spread by a species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti, sometimes known as the ‘Asian tiger mosquito’ due to its striped appearance and it normally bites during the day. The illness is widespread throughout the tropics and subtropics, affecting over 100 countries with approximately 50 million cases globally a year and numbers of cases are growing rapidly. Currently most infections occur in SE Asia, South and Central America, Mexico, Africa, Indian sub-continent, Hawaii and the Pacific. Urban areas tend to be higher risk than rural areas as the Dengue carrying mosquito likes to breed in stagnant water such as drain pipes, old tyres, cans and flower pots that collect rain.More Information >
Diphtheria is a bacterial disease spread mainly by exhaled water droplets and occasionally through infected skin lesions. It can be fatal if left untreated. Travellers are at risk when mixing closely with the local population in most developing countries. If they are likely to be at risk, travellers should ensure they have had a Diphtheria vaccine within the last 10 years.More Information >
This disease affects the liver and is usually spread through contaminated food and water or close physical contact with an infected person. It is common in developing countries where sanitary conditions are poor and the safety of drinking water is not adequately controlled. The disease can incubate for 3-5 weeks before illness develops. Adults can take many months to fully recover from infection whereas children often have very mild illness but can easily pass it to others. Hepatitis A is prevented by eating ‘safe’ food, drinking ‘safe’ water and pre-travel vaccination. A single vaccine is valid for a minimum of 1 year, with one booster vaccine valid for 20+ years.More Information >
Hepatitis B is a disease which affects the liver. It is associated with chronic liver problems leading to increased risk of liver cancer or cirrhosis. Approximately 350 million people are carriers worldwide, and the general infection rate is far higher in Asia, Africa and China than elsewhere where it can excede 8% of the population. Many Hepatitis B infections cause mild symptoms and may not be recognised, however, infected individuals may develop into being life long carriers. Hepatitis B is generally spread through unprotected sex and blood (via blood transfusion, dirty needles, piercing and tattoos etc) but may also be transmitted through body fluids. It is 100 times more infective than HIV. All travellers should consider a course of Hepatitis B vaccines especially if travelling long term, or those working with children and humanitarian aid workers. It is a 3 dose course, given over a 3 week to 6 month period.More Information >
Skin infections from a wound or even a graze may need treatment with antibiotics. Watch out for a wound oozing a lot of pus, surrounded by a red area which gets bigger. Co-amoxiclav and Clarithromycin (POM's) are the most useful antibiotics for this type of infection. If there is also a fever or raised temperature, then antibiotics are probably required but always try to seek medical advice before taking them.More Information >
This disease is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito normally between sunset and sunrise. It is most common in rural farming areas of Asia. Most infections have few symptoms and may not be recognised but severe cases can lead to inflammation of the brain and other symptoms which can be fatal. Risks to travellers are generally very low but vaccination should be considered by people intending to spend a significant length of time in rural areas, particularly during the transmission season (monsoon). The vaccine is a course of 2 injections given 28 days apart.More Information >
Malaria is a common and life threatening disease in the tropics and affects many international travellers each year. It is caused by a parasite introduced by the bite of an infected mosquito that feeds normally from sunset to sunrise. Symptoms will develop 8 days or more after the infected bite. Severe illness or death can occur within a few hours of the first symptom. Early symptoms in- clude high temperature with shivering, headache, muscle ache and weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea. Malaria is a far more serious disease for young children and pregnant women. Prompt medical treatment can be life saving. Anti-ma- larial tablets are recommended for at risk areas and the choice of drug will depend on your destination, medical history and budget. Avoiding insect bites using repellents, covering up with treated clothes and sleeping under a mosquito net are also essential to protect against Malaria and several other common tropical diseases spread by insect bite.More Information >
Sub-Saharan Africa has frequent epidemics of Meningitis particularly in the zone stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia during the dry season. Outbreaks have also been known during religious pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia. Meningitis is an inflammation of the surface of the brain. Transmission occurs from direct person-to-person contact and through inhaling infected droplets. A vaccine for strains A, C, W135 and Y are available and should be considered, especially for extended trips or if mixing very closely with the local population during risk season. A certificate of vaccination may be required if visiting Saudi Arabia. Please note only Meningitis C is given in schools. A single vaccine last 3 -5 years, this is dependent on Visa requirements.More Information >
Travelling for Hajj & Umrah? Read our guide on staying healthy - click here.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella are viral illnesses spread by the respiratory route, via coughing, sneezing etc. They are present globally in all countries of the world and are therefore a risk to all travellers. Often countries in Asia and Africa experience outbreaks of these diseases, however many developed countries also have had outbreaks in recent years. All travellers are at risk, especially if visiting for long periods or if living/working closely with the local population.More Information >
Polio is a disease of the central nervous system usually spread through contaminated food and water. Many countries have eradicated Polio through vaccination although it still exists in some African and Asian countries and cases continue to occur worldwide. Boosters are recommended at 10 year intervals if travelling to an endemic country.More Information >
Schistosomiasis (also known as Bilharzia) is a parasitic disease caused by flatworms. Larval forms of the parasites are released by freshwater snails in untreated water (lakes and rivers). They burrow through the skin of people who are in contacted with the contaminated water. The lavae make their way to the lungs and liver to mature into adult worms. These worms deposit large volumes of eggs in the blood vessels surrounding the bladder or intestines causing disease. This disease often shows no symptoms so can go undetected for months and years causing serious health problems.More Information >
Rabies is endemic throughout most of the world and causes approximately 60,000 human deaths per year. The virus is carried in the saliva of infected mammals (which may appear normal) and is usually spread by a bite, but licks on open wounds and scratches have been enough to transmit the virus to humans. In the event of a possible exposure the area should be washed thoroughly with soap and water, irrigated with iodine based antiseptic or a high percent alcohol, and medical attention sought as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours. The virus affects the nervous system and once symptoms develop death is inevitable - even with good medical care. A pre-exposure course of 3 vaccines is available and should be administered over a 3 - 4 week period.More Information >
The bacteria that causes Tetanus is present in soil worldwide and disease occurs when the bacteria gets into a wound or even small cut. The disease leads to uncontrollable muscle spasms and possibly death.
Travellers should ensure they have had a Tetanus vaccine within the last 10 years before they travel.More Information >
Spread by the bite of an infected tick and rarely, via unpasteurised milk from infected cows, sheep and goats. Travellers at risk include those planning to walk, camp or work in long grassy or wooded areas for long periods especially during spring, summer and autumn months as this is when the ticks are most active. If caught, symptoms include flu-like illness sometimes followed by neurological complications. If at risk, travellers should consider vaccination which involves 2 initial injections and a booster for extended coverage. They should also avoid tick bites by covering up and treating clothing with Permethrin which is a tick killer. Always remove any ticks promptly.More Information >
Typhoid is spread through faecally contaminated food and water. The disease is common in areas with poor stand- ards in food hygiene and preparation, and where suitable treatment of sewage is lacking. It is possible to contract Typhoid from shellfish, raw fruit or vegetables fertilised by ‘night soil’ (human waste). A feverish illness will develop 1-3 weeks after infection and without correct diagnosis and treatment, the disease can spread through the gut wall and cause a serious infection throughout the body. It is also possible to become a carrier of this disease when bacteria remain in the gut after symptoms have resolved but you continue to be able to infect others. This disease can be prevented by healthy eating and drinking and pre-travel vaccination that will last up to 3 years.More Information >
TB is mainly spread through infected respiratory droplets but also through unpasteurised milk. The BCG vaccine provides limited protection and is advised for healthcare workers and those under the age of 16 travelling for more than 3 months to high risk countries.More Information >
This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes normally from sunrise to sunset and is endemic in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. During outbreaks it has up to a 50% mortality rate and therefore the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) recommends vaccination against Yellow Fever if travelling to affected regions. In addition, some countries require a certificate proving vaccination before allowing entry. A single vaccine certificate lasts for ten years and is available only at registered Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres. Insect bite avoidance using repellents, mosquito nets and covering up in clothing treated with Bugproof Clothing Treatment is essential.More Information >
Zika is a viral infection transmitted by daytime biting mosquitoes, mostly biting around mid-morning and late afternoon (dusk). These mosquitoes bite an infected person and then spread the infection to others when they bite again.More Information >