Although there are plenty of vaccine-preventable diseases, you can’t forget about the diseases that do not have vaccines.
An illness from contaminated water, you want to avoid swimming in urine-contaminated fresh water or mud. Any water or food that might have been contaminated with animal urine is also something to watch out for. Coming into contact with urine or bodily fluids from an animal infected with leptospirosis can also put you at risk.
The triatomine bug feces carry Chagas disease. Rubbing the bug’s feces into a bug bite, breaks in the skin, eyes, or mouth. Pregnant women can also transmit this disease to their baby. Blood transfusions and contaminated food or water can also carry Chagas disease.
Dengue fever is a mosquito borne illness. There is a vaccine available for kids aged 9-16 years old who have had a previous dengue virus infection. People can contract dengue fever up to four times in a lifetime, and the second infection is usually the worst.
Sandy fly bites can transmit parasites that cause health issues. One kind of leishmaniasis causes skin ulcers or lumps and the other kind causes fever, weight loss, anemia, enlarged spleen, and more.
Zika is from mosquito bites and can be passed from an infected pregnant mother to her unborn child. This can cause microcephaly, or a small head and there is no treatment to cure Zika,
Infected rodent excretions cause severe respiratory illness in humans. The first symptoms someone experiences are fatigue, fever, and muscle aches.
Tuberculosis (breathing in TB bacteria from an infected person)
When someone breathes TB bacteria expelled from an infected person, they can contract TB. Weight loss, blood-tinged cough, fever, and night sweats are common tuberculosis symptoms.
For the majority of these diseases, prevention with mosquito repellent and staying away from animals and their secretions can help you avoid these diseases.
Most of these illnesses are treated with antibiotics or antiparasitics. Because these are not well-known diseases in the United States, always tell your healthcare provider that you have traveled internationally recently.
If you are traveling with children, be extra aware of what they might have come into contact with. Children touch a variety of objects and surfaces and do not always wash their hands as often as adults.
These diseases will also likely prohibit you from donating blood or plasma for a period of time. Consult your physician and the donation center on their protocol.
New vaccines are being manufactured and developed each year, so there may be vaccines for these illnesses in the future, but for now, stay safe on your travels!