When people travel, they may get exposed to various bacterial, parasitic and viral infections that they may not have come into contact with in the places they live. This may be due to the change in climate, difference in hygiene practices and sanitation which can be found in other parts of the world. Generally, infectious diseases are more evident in tropical and sub tropical regions and this is because of the warm and moist climates which facilitates the growth of different organisms. Developing regions in the world have put travelers at high risk of getting travel-related illnesses, especially Africa. For instance, 22%-64% of people travelling to developing countries have been reported to have various travel-related problems but most of these illnesses are mild but around 8% of the travelers always have to seek medical attentions from health care providers (Fairley, 2015).
Some of travel related illnesses are spread through bites from insects such as mosquitoes which causes Malaria or flies such as tsetse fly which causes trypanosomiasis. Other diseases such as schistomiasis can be contracted through swimming and bathing in contaminated water while traveler’s diarrhea can be contracted from drinking and eating contaminated food. Hence, it is important to take a look at some of these travel-related illnesses which are caused by the parasites in details so that people may have great understanding of them.
African sleeping sickness (African Trypanosomiasis)
This is a vector-borne disease and it is caused by infections from protozoan parasites which belong to genus Trypanosoma and transmission of this infection is done by the tsetse fly through bites which always acquire their infections from humans or other animals which habours the human pathogenic parasites (Glossina genus)( Trypanosomiasis,2017). Sleeping sickness affects people in around 36 sub-Saharan Africa countries because of the presence of many tsetse flies which transmits the disease. African trypanosomiasis takes two forms; Trypanosoma brucei gambiense whereby a person can get this type of infection for a long time without major symptoms of the disease being noticed and emergence of the symptoms always occurs when the person is in the advanced stage of the disease; then there is Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense whereby its first signs and symptoms can be noticed after a few weeks or months from infections. Generally, the common symptoms of African sleeping sickness includes; fever, headaches, itching, joint pains, confusion and poor coordination
American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas Disease)
American Trypanosomiasis is a disease caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi which is always transmitted by insect vectors to people and animals. This disease is widespread in the region of the Americas which includes Southern Texas, Central America and South America especially in the rural areas where there is poverty. There is estimation of around six to seven million people in the world, but mostly in Latin America, who have been infected with the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi which causes Chagas disease (Chagas disease, 2017). American Trypanosomiasis is a vector borne disease transmitted to human beings through “kissing bugs” also known as faeces or urine of triatomine bugs by means of contact. The common symptoms of Chagas disease includes; fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, swelling of the eye, cardiomyopathy and death.
Malaria is a disease which is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquito. A person gets infected with this disease once an infected bites a human hence transmitting the parasites which then multiplies faster in the liver of the host before infecting and destroying the red blood cells found in the body (Webberly, 2016). Most of the cases and death due to malaria occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa though Latin America and the Middle East are also at a high risk. The most prevalent malaria parasite found in the African continent is the P.falciparum and P.vivax is dominant in the countries that are found outside the Sub-Saharan Africa. The common symptoms of Malaria includes; chills, fever, sweating, fatigue, nausea, mental confusion and headache.
Schistosomiasis refers to chronic and acute disease caused by parasitic worms of the genus Schistosoma. Infections of this disease occurs when the skin of a person get into contact with contaminated freshwater (contaminated by Schistosoma eggs) where certain snails hosting the parasites are living thus enabling the parasites to penetrate the skin of the human body (“CDC – Schistosomiasis – Disease”, 2012). Development of the larvae into adult schistosomes occurs in the body of humans and the adult worms continues to live in the blood vessels whereby the females continues to release more eggs which can be passed out of the body through faeces or urine thus facilitating the lifecycle of the parasites. This disease is common in tropical and subtropical areas whereby people have adequate sanitation and without access to safe water for drinking. The common symptoms of malaria includes; rashes, itchy skin, fever, chills, cough, body aches, belly pain and headache.
This disease is caused by protozoa parasite called Leishmania which are transmitted by phlebotomine sand flies which are infected and this is done through bites. Leishmaniasis exists in three forms; visceral leishmaniasis which is the most serious form of this disease especially in the Mediterranean basin and South East Asia, cutaneous leishmaniasis is the most common form of this disease especially in some parts of East Africa such as Ethiopia and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis which results to destruction of mucous membranes partially or even totally (“Leishmaniasis”, 2016). The common symptoms of leishmaniasis includes; fever, weight loss, swelling of spleen or liver, loss of appetite, skin ulcers, anemia and pain in the abdomen.
Loa Loa Filariasis
This is a type of skin and eye disease which is caused by Loa loa, a nematode worm (“CDC – Loiasis”, 2015). Infection of this disease is through bites of a deer fly which is a vector of Loa loa. Loa loa does not affect the vision of a person but a person can feel pain when moving the eyeballs. In addition to all that, Loa loa are mainly found in Africa and India, especially in West and Central Africa. The common symptoms of Loa Loa Filariasis includes; itchy, non painful swellings, muscle pain, joint pain, worm crawling under the skin and worm crawling across the surface of the eye.
When people travel, they are at a great risk of getting infected with parasitic infections. Hence, it is advisable that people should always be careful when it comes to their health especially when they are traveling. It is recommended that people should always check the CDC website where they can get more health information about the places they want to visit. Above all that, it is advisable for people to drink clean water, swim only in oceans or chlorinated pools, wear shoes all the time, get proper medication and vaccinations before they travel, stay in well screened or conditioned areas, people should also apply insect repellant to exposed skin and they should use bed nets at night when they are sleeping (Travel-related infections, 2017).
- CDC – Loiasis. (2015). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/loiasis/
- CDC – Schistosomiasis – Disease. (2012). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/schistosomiasis/disease.html
- Chagas disease. (2017). World Health Organization. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs340/en/
- Fairley, J. (2015). General Approach to the Returned Traveler – Chapter 5 – 2016 Yellow Book | Travelers’ Health | CDC. Wwwnc.cdc.gov. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/post-travel-evaluation/general-approach-to-the-returned-traveler
- Leishmaniasis. (2016). World Health Organization. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs375/en/
- Travel-related Infections – body, viral, contagious, causes. (2017). Humanillnesses.com. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from http://www.humanillnesses.com/Infectious-Diseases-Sk-Z/Travel-related-Infections.html
- Trypanosomiasis, human African (sleeping sickness). (2017). World Health Organization. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs259/en/
- Webberley, D. (2016). Malaria: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. Medical News Today. Retrieved 20 March 2017, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150670.php