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Travel Health - Precautions Along the Way

Food

  • Avoid raw fruits (unless you wash and peel them yourself), raw vegetables, and raw or undercooked meat and seafood.
  • Try to eat steaming hot, well-cooked food.
  • Don't get foods or drinks from street vendors.
  • Make sure dairy products have been pasteurized.

To learn more, see the topic Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling.

Swimming and water sports

Swimming in contaminated fresh water, such as ponds or rivers, can expose you to diseases. Even swimming pools with inadequate chlorination pose a risk. Talk to your doctor if you plan on doing recreational water sports—such as white-water rafting, adventure racing, or kayaking—in tropical and backcountry regions.

To prevent fungal or parasitic infections and injuries, do not go barefoot. Try to keep your feet as clean and dry as possible.

Although sea water is usually safe from disease, swimming or diving in sea water can still be dangerous. Avoid swimming or wading in sea water near a river, estuary, or other outlet from inland. Swimming when you have an open cut or sore can also increase your risk of getting an infection. In developing countries, sea water around big cities and other populated areas may not be safe. For more information, see the topic Marine Stings and Scrapes.

Insect-borne disease

Mosquitoes, flies, fleas, and ticks camera.gif all spread disease. These diseases include malaria, Lyme disease, West Nile fever, yellow fever, and dengue fever.

Malaria is the insect-borne disease of most concern to travelers in tropical and subtropical regions. Although antimalarial medicines kill the malaria parasite in the bloodstream, this protection isn't complete. Take protective measures along with taking antimalarial medicine.

Ticks inhabit many regions, including Europe, Canada, and the United States. Although it is rare for travelers to contract diseases from ticks, some of the diseases are serious. For information on how to prevent tick bites, see the topic Tick Bites.

Here are some tips that can help you avoid mosquitoes and other insects:

  • Use DEET or other insect repellents on your skin.
  • Sleep under a bed net to prevent insects from biting you while you sleep. Permethrin or deltamethrin insecticide sprayed on bed nets will protect against mosquitoes for weeks to months.
  • Use mosquito coils. The smoke from these slow-burning coils repels mosquitoes.
  • Wear light-colored and loose-fitting long pants and long-sleeved shirts. This is especially important from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes that spread malaria bite. Insect repellent applied to clothing is effective for longer than it may be on the skin.

Do not use home remedies like eating garlic, rubbing garlic on your skin, or taking vitamin B. They do not prevent bites.

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