Infectious diseases vary from one country to another. Infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Some infections are contagious, which means they can be spread from person to person, while others are spread from animal to humans or by insects. The travel nurse will highlight the specific infectious diseases in countries on the planned itinerary and discuss strategies for prevention and self-care.
Vaccinations can prevent some diseases. Basic hygienic precautions can also assist in prevention. For example, regular hand washing, especially before meals and after using the toilet, helps to cut down on disease transmission. Wearing long-sleeved clothing and long pants, sleeping under mosquito netting, and using insect repellents help to decrease the risk of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. In some countries, it is only safe to drink bottled or boiled water.
Depending on the planned itinerary, it may be wise to take certain kinds of medications. Anyone who currently takes prescription medications should pack an adequate amount for the trip and a bit extra for any unanticipated delays. Anti-diarrheal medications and antibiotics may also be a good idea in some countries. Travelers headed into countries where malaria is prevalent may need to take prescription medications to help prevent infection.
Travelers who will be on cruise ships will usually have the services of the ship’s doctor. Travel in cities and small towns means that medical care will usually be available. However, all travelers should know the basics of self-care for likely infectious diseases and how to recognize when medical care is necessary. This is a topic for discussion with the travel nurse, who can make recommendations and suggest strategies in the event a traveler becomes ill.