Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Balance

Font Size
A
A
A

Bringing Home Illness From Overseas

Diarrhea, Malaria, Bug Bites, and Skin Disorders Are Among the Most Common Problems
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 11, 2006 -- International travel can be enriching, but a souvenir you don't want is an illness picked up overseas.

A team of doctors in Nepal, Germany, and the U.S. recently tracked diseases brought home by travelers who had visited developing countries. The travelers' most common diseases were:

The study by the University of Alabama's David Freedman, MD, and colleagues appears in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Far-Flung Findings

Freedman's study spanned the globe. Data came from 30 specialized clinics in six developing regions in the world.

Between 1996 and 2004, more than 17,000 people who had recently traveled overseas visited those clinics, complaining of health problems they'd picked up on the road.

Those people are a tiny slice of the world's travelers. About 763 million people crossed international borders in 2004, according to a journal editorial by David Hill, MD, DTM&H.

Hill directs the National Travel Health Network and Center in London. He's also an honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Hill's "DTM&H" credential notes his specialty: tropical medicine and hygiene. That field is more important than ever, Hill writes, since people flit from one side of the world to another for business or pleasure.

Keeping Travel Healthy

Packing your bags for an overseas trip? The CDC has an office devoted to healthy travel. Here are some tips from the CDC and the papers by Freedman and Hill:

  • Check in with your doctor or local health department at least four to six weeks before your trip.
  • Get any vaccinations recommended for your destination.
  • Take any prescriptions that you might need to prevent disease (such as antimalarial drugs) as directed.
  • Before your trip, pick up current health information about your destination. Ask your doctor or try the CDC Travelers' Health web site -- www.cdc.gov/travel.
  • Don't eat raw or undercooked meat or seafood.
  • Don't eat raw fruits (like bananas or oranges) and vegetables unless you've peeled them yourself.
  • Avoid tap water, including ice made from tap water. Hot tea, coffee, and bottled drinks are safe.
  • Well-cooked foods and packaged foods, if handled properly, are usually safe.
  • Avoid foods and beverages sold by street vendors in unhygienic conditions.
  • If you're traveling back home to your native country, don't assume that your body can handle local germs.
  • Try to avoid bug bites.

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
Take your medication
Slideshow
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Article
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Slideshow
 
Woman worn out on couch
Article
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
Article
laughing family
Quiz