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Everything you need to know about cholera
With more than 150,000 cases reported each year, understanding cholera is vital for travel safety Cholera may not be found in the UK, but for travellers it is still a concern. This infectious disease can cause severe watery diarrhoea and dehydration, which can be fatal if left untreated. Cholera is most commonly found in parts of the world where poor sanitation, crowding and famine are more common. Higher risk areas include parts of Africa, south Asia and Latin America. If you are planning a trip to any area where cholera is still prevalent, it is important to understand as much as possible about the condition. By getting the facts, you can take the necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy when abroad. What causes cholera? Cholera is caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria, normally found in food and water that has been contaminated with faeces from an infected person. Common sources of the bacteria include municipal water supplies and ice made from municipal water. It may also be found in vegetables grown with contaminated water, raw fish, seafood caught in contaminated waters or foods and drinks sold by street vendors. When contaminated food or water is consumed, the bacteria releases a toxin in the intestines which results in severe diarrhoea. You are unlikely to catch cholera from casual contact with an infected person. What are the symptoms of cholera? Cholera symptoms can appear as soon as a few hours after infection. However, in other instances they may take as long as five days to appear. Sometimes symptoms are mild, while in other cases they can be extremely serious. Around 1 in 20 infected people will experience severe watery diarrhoea accompanied by vomiting, and this can rapidly lead to dehydration. It’s important to bear in mind that even those with minimal or no symptoms can contribute to the spread of infection. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to shock and even death within a matter of hours. Symptoms of the dehydration associated with cholera include: Low blood pressure Muscle cramps Rapid heart rate Loss of skin elasticity Thirst Dry mucous membranes, including the inside of the mouth, nose, throat and eyelids How do you prevent and treat cholera? If you plan to travel to an area where you are at risk of the cholera infection, it’s important to take certain precautions in order to stay safe. The first precaution you should take is to only use water which has been boiled, chemically disinfected, or which comes in a sealed bottle. Be sure to use disinfected water not just for drinking, but also for preparing food and drinks, making ice, washing your face and hands, and washing fruits and vegetables. The most effective way to disinfect water is to boil it for at least one minute, or filter it and use a commercial chemical disinfectant. You can also lower your risk of cholera by avoiding raw foods, including unpeeled fruits and vegetables, raw or undercooked meat and fish, and unpasteurized milk and milk products. If you suspect that you may have become infected, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Rehydration is key, and treatment will often consist of oral or intravenous solutions to replace lost fluids. Before you travel, make sure you improve your chances of preventing cholera by getting fully vaccinated. Cholera vaccinations are available from Express Travel Clinic. If you are planning to travel further afield, make sure you stay safe and healthy by getting fully vaccinated. Book with Express Travel Clinic or simply pay us a visit for a walk-in appointment.
World Mosquito Day 2018 is on 20th August
This World Mosquito Day, make sure you are fully covered for your travels For over 120 years, World Mosquito Day has aimed to spread awareness of the risks mosquitos pose to our health and safety. The awareness day was first established back in 1897, when Sir Ronald Ross discovered the link between mosquitos and the transmission of the malaria virus. Not only is the day a nod to the great work of Sir Ross and the scientists who have continued his work; it is also a chance for people to understand more about the risks of malaria and how to treat it. Many establishments also use it as an opportunity to fundraise for research into a malaria cure. In honour of World Mosquito Day 2018, let’s remind ourselves of the warning signs for malaria, and how you can prevent it. What you need to know about malaria Malaria is a serious disease, spread mainly in tropical locations where mosquitos thrive. A single bite from a mosquito can be enough to cause infection, and if the disease isn’t treated effectively it can be fatal. According to the 2014 World Malaria Report, there were around 198 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2013. This resulted in more than 584,000 deaths. The virus is caused by a kind of parasite known as Plasmodium. There are many different types of this parasite, but only five have been established to cause malaria. When an infected mosquito bites a human, the parasite passes into the bloodstream. Symptoms usually appear 7 to 18 days after infection, but can sometimes not appear for a year or more. These symptoms include: Sweats and chills A fever and high temperature Vomiting Muscle pain Diarrhoea Headaches The condition is found in over 100 countries around the world, most of which are tropical. If you are travelling, you should check whether your destination is a high-risk area. These include Central and South America Large parts of Africa and Asia Haiti The Dominican Republic Parts of the Middle East Certain Pacific Islands Our advice for travellers There is no doubt that malaria is a serious condition, but if it is diagnosed and treated properly virtually everyone can make a full recovery. Antimalarial medication is used to both treat and prevent the disease. The type of medication used and the length of treatment will depend on the kind of malaria you’ve contracted, where you caught it and how severe your symptoms are. Although treating malaria is possible, ideally you should be aiming to avoid the condition altogether. The first and most vital step to effectively preventing malaria is to get fully vaccinated before you travel. This allows you to enjoy your holiday without worry. Malaria vaccinations are available from Express Travel Clinic. An easy way to remember how else to prevent malaria is to follow the ABCD approach: Awareness of risk – find out whether your destination carries a high risk of malaria Bite prevention – use insect repellent, cover your arms and legs and hang a mosquito net to avoid bites Check whether you need to take medication – you should be sure of the dosage and type of medication before you travel Diagnosis – if you do experience any symptoms at all, seek immediate medical support, even up to a year after your return If you’re travelling this year, don’t hesitate. Ensure you are fully vaccinated and ready to enjoy your trip safely. Book with Express Travel Clinic today or pop in for a walk-in appointment.