Top 10 Travel Related Diseases

Most of us wouldn’t even think twice about the possible diseases we can contract while on holiday. Unfortunately, when we travel we find ourselves at higher risk of disease than if we had stayed at home. This is due to a number of reasons such as:

  • being in a different climate
  • being in a different environment
  • having more contact and closer contact with other people
  • eating in less sanitary places
  • being faced with less hygienic facilities
  • participating in more risking behaviour than your would at home
  • being exposed to diseases which are less prevalent in Australia

Check with your doctor before departing on holiday for information on travel vaccinations which can prevent a number of the common travel related diseases. However, vaccines are not always available and other methods of prevention are required.

Top 10 Travel Related Diseases

  1. Cholera
    Cholera is a disease caused by a bacteria transmitted to humans by food or water. Contamination usually occurs when untreated sewerage is released into waterways and then that water is used in the preparation of food. Symptoms include severe muscle and stomach cramps. Prevention includes sterilising water before use by boiling and/or filtering.
  2. Dengue Fever
    Dengue fever is caused by a virus found in the tropics. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitos. Symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and fever along with a bright red rash (although this is not always present). Currently, there is no vaccine available for the prevention of dengue fever so the best way to avoid this disease to avoid being bitten by mosquitos in affected areas.
  3. Hepatitis
    Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Symptoms include joint pain, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and jaundice. There are numerous types of hepatitis but the most common form contracted when travelling is hepatitis A. Hepatitis A can be spread through personal contact, consumption of raw seafood or by contaminated water. A vaccine is available to prevent infection from hepatitis A for life. A vaccine is also available to prevent hepatitis B.
    HIV infection can occur by the transfer of blood, via sexual contact or by breast milk. Prevention includes avoiding unprotected sexual intercourse and contaminated needles. There is no vaccine available to prevent infection.
  5. Japanese Encephalitis
    Japanese encephalitis is a disease spread by infected mosquitos. Travellers to Southeast Asia and the Far East are at the most risk. Sever neck rigidity, fever, and headache are symptoms of this sometimes fatal disease. See your doctor about vaccines available to prevent Japanese encephalitis.
  6. Malaria
    Malaria is an infectious disease found in tropical and sub-tropical areas. It is generally spread by mosquitos and is particularly common in Sub-Sahara Africa. Symptoms include fever, shivering, joint pain, and vomiting. No vaccine is currently available for Malaria however, preventative drugs are available to help reduce your risk of infection.
  7. Meningococcal Meningitis
    This disease is a bacterial infection spread by close contact with an infected person. It is more common in young people. Symptoms include headache, fever, chills, stiff neck, and a rash. A vaccine is available to prevent certain groups of the meningococcal bacteria.
  8. Rabies
    Rabies is a virus affecting mammals, including humans. It is usually spread by the bite of an infected animal such as a dog, cat, bat or fox. Initial symptoms to appear are similar to the flu. Post exposure vaccinations are effective if administered promptly. Although Australia is rabies free, most countries are not. The vast majority of cases of rabies occur in Africa, Asia, and South America.
  9. Typhoid
    Typhoid is a common bacterial illness transmitted by ingested food or water contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, and diarrhoea. You can be vaccinated against typhoid fever and vaccination is recommended for people travelling to certain areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  10. Yellow Fever
    Yellow fever is a viral disease spread primarily by mosquitos. Symptoms include fever, headache, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice, and a slow pulse. Yellow fever is preventable by a vaccine which gives immunity for around 10 years. Vaccination may be necessary for travellers to certain regions in Africa, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Travel vaccination requirements are subject to change. Please see your doctor for full information on vaccinations and other prevention methods well before travelling to high risk destinations.