Analysis of the Department of Health’s notifiable diseases data by the comparison company Finder.com.au shows a spike in exotic diseases among returning Australian travellers.
Most of the diseases are preventable, yet it’s hardly surprising they’re on the rise when research last year showed the number of Australians skipping vaccinations – and presumably also advice – has soared.
Here are the top five travel illnesses that you could or you already have in one of your outings.
How to get it: Contaminated food and water. Traveller’s diarrhoea affects more than 50% of travellers to developing countries and can last for many days.
How to avoid it: While it’s impossible to be squeaky clean with everything you and drink, sticking to bottled or purified water, freshly-cooked and peelable fruits and vegetables can save you the suffering.
Respiratory Tract Infections and Influenza
How to get it: Standing in queues at airports and sitting on planes are excellent ways to get coughed and sneezed on by travellers from all over the world. It’s hard to dodge close confines, so concentrate on the prevention measures.
How to avoid it: All international travellers should have an annual flu jab. As it’s the most common of the vaccine-preventable diseases and people need to understand that in the tropics, influenza is year-round, and not seasonal.
How to get it: Like the more commonly-understood Hepatitis A, typhoid comes from contaminated food and water, particularly in high-risk areas such as India and the Indian sub-continent.
How to avoid it: Vaccination.
How to get it: Health authorities are also concerned about a jump in measles cases, with travellers bringing the disease back from overseas.
Measles is highly contagious and is spread by mucous or saliva droplets, via sneezing, coughing or contaminated surfaces.
How to avoid it: Many people believe they are vaccinated against measles when they’re not fully protected, so it pays to check.
How to get it: Dengue is transmitted by daytime-biting mosquitoes in the tropics.
How to avoid it: With no vaccination available, the only way to avoid dengue is to avoid getting bitten.