When one goes traveling, the thrill of adventure should be the primary focus. There is nothing like landing in a foreign country, and gradually learning and feeling comfortable over a short period of time. But traveling involves one very important aspect: being careful. With the winter travel season coming, let’s look at some health advice about one symptom you should never ignore.
One valuable study makes a valuable point: don’t ignore a fever, even after returning home from abroad. Studying travel-related illnesses from around the world, researchers say that fever can indicate a potentially serious condition.
The study gleaned data from 25,000 travelers at 30 medical clinics on six continents to see what the leading illnesses were. It was published a few years back Clinical Infectious Diseases.
It found that nearly 30% of the travelers arrived at the clinic due to a fever. The most pointed statistic was in the rate of hospitalization: while just three percent of non-fever people were hospitalized, 26% of people with a fever headed to the hospital.
The most common cause of fever: malaria. It caused 21% of cases. Over the study, 12 people died from illnesses, four from malaria. Often transmitted by a mosquito bite, malaria is a common disease in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Many travelers can even fall ill with this disease after returning home. Malaria presents as a flu-like condition that can strike right away, or months later.
The researchers noted other causes of fever: dengue; rickettsia; and hepatitis. About 17% of travelers had an infection that could have been prevented with a vaccine. That raises the important point of being medically prepared for any trip, especially to subtropical regions of the world.
Fever was most likely to develop when visiting south- central Asia, Central and South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. We live in the era of travel, and a fever is not to be ignored when you’re away from home. A fever is when your body’s temperature rises above normal, to around 103 degrees F. It may be accompanied by such symptoms as muscle aches, headache, shivering, sweating, loss of appetite, dehydration, and overall weakness.
Before you head out with your passport, talk to your family doctor about what vaccines you might need. If you’re in another country and have symptoms of illness, especially a fever, make sure you get proper medical attention. If you’ve recently been to one of the regions mentioned above where malaria is more common and are experiencing flu- like symptoms, make sure you mention your travels to your doctor. Safe and happy travels!