Getting sick when traveling is almost inevitable. Dehli Belly, Montezuma’s revenge and even the just a chronic hangover, these are relatively minor situations but please take precautions with the more serious illnesses.
I am thanking my lucky stars this week for my travel insurance because it only cost me $65 instead of $600. Regardless of cost, please make sure to get vaccinated before you leave.
Remember that you are getting a small dose of the disease when you are getting a vaccine. Please make sure you are in relatively good health, that you allow for a good nights rest and have some healthy immune boosting food ready after your jabs.
The following Vaccines are recommended for Central America:
I have discussed mosquitos in more detail below, but yellow fever can be prevented by injection.
Proof of yellow fever vaccination must be stamped and signed by the nurse or doctor.
Please see the World Health Organisation’s most up to date list of countries that you require evidence of vaccination before entering the country.
Ensure to get this 2 weeks before you travel to ensure that it is effective. A booster shot is requied every two years.
Contaminated food and water are the main causes of Typhoid but it can also be spread among people. The symptoms are stomach pain, fever, fatigue and sometimes a rash.
If you get 2 doses of this vaccine, 6 months apart, then you are immune for life. This serious liver disease causes Jaundice, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and joint pain. It is spread between people, through feces and through contaminated food and water.
Hepatitis B can occur as both a short-term illness and a more serious chronic illness. It can take up to 6 months to develop after the initial infection. Unlike Hepatitis A, it can only be spread by blood. Chronic Hepatitis B can cause long-term liver damage and the symptoms are similar to Hep A
This is a combined shot of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Poliomyelitis. It is valid for 10 years and I got mine 4 years ago before visiting South East Asia.
This is another combined shot Tetanus, diphtheria, and Pertussis. Although I already Revaxis, Pertussis is more commonly known as Whooping cough and there are outbreaks in Central America.
Let me be clear: I am not militantly vegan and do not love all the animals. I’m not a fan of insects but wouldn’t kill them apart from one. Mosquitos are the most pointless lifeform on earth. All they do it cause itchy annoying bites and disease. Even worse, the World Health Organisation has estimated that mosquitos cause the death of 1 million people annually, making them the most deadly animal in the world. Remember that the deaths caused by mosquitos are mainly in third world countries, where the victims, unfortunately, could be saved if they had adequate medical care.
Having lived with them in through my travels in South East Asia and in the Cayman Islands, I have been a victim of bites but never of disease. Cayman’s mosquitos are not disease carrying and the government has a full Research and Control Unit. Every week, a plane and truck drive around spraying for mosquitos. I’m not sure how I feel about this- if it’s killing mosquitos, what is it doing to other insects, animals, and even humans?
I won’t give you the usual advice about long sleeves and pants. Honestly? They bite through clothes.
There are old wives tales that they dislike tonic water, smokers, bananas, B vitamins, and garlic. From personal experience, none of those things work. I used to smoke, my drink of choice is Gin and Tonic, I love garlic and bananas and I tried taking the B vitamins. If mosquitos like you, you are done for.
I can verify that they are attracted to Carbon Dioxide production because I always get bitten outside running and at my outdoor gym.
Sleep under a mosquito net for sure and even travel with one, they are cheap and compact.
Tiki Torches and Candles can ward them off at campfires or if you are just sitting outside.
Most of the sprays do not work and most of them contain harsh chemicals. I recommend taking a natural one and a stronger chemical one for areas where the risk of mosquito-borne disease are particularly high.
I will give you a brief overview of the main three mosquito-borne diseases
Malaria is the most notorious of mosquito-borne illness and symptoms include shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur. This is the only of the diseases that can be prevented by taking daily medication. The main two tablets are called Malarone and Doxycycline.
Since the widespread use of these medications, resistance has increased and taking them doesn’t guarantee protection. Many suffer side effects such as nausea and fatigue.
I think it is best to perform a risk analysis when deciding to take the drugs. If you are traveling to a high-risk area, then definitely take them. If the risk is lower, then focus on preventing bites. Remember that elevated areas and cities are usually safest but please check http://www.who.int/malaria/publications/country-profiles/en/ for the latest data.
Otherwise known as break bone fever symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains. Unfortunately, this is a virus so there is no cure other than to let the symptoms run its course.
Many who get this virus do not get symptoms at all. The real risk is for pregnant women or those intending to fall pregnant in the near future. It is advised that pregnant women do not travel to areas of infection at all.
In summary, take all of the precautions that you can. Make sure you take care of your body before you leave and on the road too! Put some cash aside for a nice hotel in the event you do get sick. If you are traveling alone, make someone aware of your situation so that they can check on you.
If you are traveling with a partner, they say that food poisoning is a fantastic bonding experience. If you can make it through that, you can make it through anything.
For your own sake and the sake of other hostel users, please avoid dorms if you had a few dodgy burritos.