13 January 2006

Let's stay safe out there!

One thing that travelers often don't think about until just before they leave is health. In my experience, most travelers will have some health issues when in other countries, even if it's only loose bowels due to changes in their drinking water. (And that's true of everyone, not just people from rich countries—Mexicans are advised not to drink the water in the US.) It's generally a good idea to investigate health risks a few months before you leave, as some immunizations take a while to take effect.

Something that people from rich countries often don't consider is that for diseases which are rare in their home countries, the standard of care may be better overseas. A friend of mine caught malaria in India, and then some months later started having similar symptoms again, and went back to the US. The doctors there decided his malaria had recurred, and tried to treat it as such. In the end, he had to spend several days in the hospital, and was near death, because what he had was, in fact, typhoid. It's likely that had he stayed in India, it would have been recognized and properly treated much sooner, as both diseases are common there.

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