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Recommendations for travellers: preventing infectious and tropical diseases

Recommendations for travellers: preventing infectious and tropical diseases

Recommendations for travellers: preventing infectious and tropical diseases

Travelling to tropical areas can expose you to a number of medical problems or diseases specific to this type of climate.

It is recommended that you take into account the health situation in the country you want to go, through the following aspects :

• food hygiene and water treatment,

• climate and environment (sun, heat, altitude, extreme cold, animal bites or insect stings, etc.),

• infectious diseases (malaria, hepatitis, dengue, typhoid fever, yellow fever, etc.).

This is a good opportunity to do a health check-up and to check the vaccinations required or recommended by the official institution in your country of departure are up to date, in order to consider additional vaccinations and specific treatments.


Infectious tropical diseases

These diseases occur in hot and humid climates and are caused by pathogenic micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi) that can be transmitted directly or indirectly from person to person or even from animals to humans.


The most common infectious tropical diseases: Malaria, Dengue, hepatitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, leprosy, cholera...


Prevention to avoid tropical diseases

Before you leave

When travelling abroad, especially in environments different from your own, certain criteria must be taken into account:


• the risks in the visited country,

• the conditions and duration of the stay,

• the age, general state of health and physical condition of the traveller.

It is important to find out early enough before departure (1 to 2 months before) what vaccinations are required.


Vaccination and specific treatment for tropical diseases

Vaccination enables travellers to avoid certain serious diseases that are dangerous and to protect the local populations from epidemic risks.

Going on a trip is an opportunity to review the mandatory and recommended vaccinations in your country and abroad. This applies in particular to vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DTP), but also vaccination against yellow fever, which is imposed as a condition of entry into their territory (even when the traveller is only passing through an airport) by certain African countries.


This vaccine must be included in an international vaccination booklet, issued by centres approved by the Ministry of Health.

Vaccinations are specific to the health risks of the country visited. The main diseases reported and justifying vaccination are: yellow fever (or antiamaril vaccination), Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, cerebrospinal meningitis or meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid fever, rabies, seasonal influenza (strongly recommended for high-risk groups: the chronically ill, senior citizens, etc.).

This is why it is strongly recommended to consult your doctor and, if necessary, to make an appointment with an international vaccination centre.


International Certificate of Vaccination

The International Certificate of Vaccination is valid for 10 years and is given to the person who is vaccinated against yellow fever. This vaccine cannot be administered by your own doctor. It must be carried out in an international vaccination centre approved by the Ministry of Health, such as those operated by Air France (for France).


Malaria prevention

The malaria regions of the world are classified into 3 groups, defined according to the level of chloroquine resistance. Different preventive treatments exist for each area.

• Group 1 (no chloroquine resistance)

• Group 2 (chloroquine resistance zone)

• Group 3 (area of high prevalence of chloroquine resistance or multi-drug resistance)

Malaria is an infectious tropical disease transmitted by a mosquito of the Anopheles family that usually bites from sunset to sunrise. It is therefore recommended, in addition to anti-malaria prophylaxis, to wear long, covering clothes, impregnated with insecticide, apply a repellent product (insect repellent) to the exposed parts of the body (note that the duration of protection varies from 2 to 5 hours depending on the concentration of the product and the outside temperature. Sweating, but also showers or baths, must also be taken into account), sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.


Prevention of diseases transmitted by other animals (bites)

A large number of infections, against which there is not always a vaccine or drug treatment, are transmitted by insects (mosquitoes, ticks, flies, etc.).


It is therefore recommended to protect yourself against insect bites in order to prevent other infections than malaria. The means of protection are the same as those used against malaria mosquitoes, but the time of day may vary: for example, dengue mosquitoes bite during the day or in the early evening.

To prevent envenomations (by snake bites, scorpions, ants, or contact with poisonous fish or shellfish), it is advisable to wear high, closed shoes and long trousers, hit the ground with a stick or make noise when walking, shake your clothes, shoes and sheets before use, do not walk barefoot on the beach.


Food hygiene

The following food hygiene measures are recommended to prevent traveller's diarrhoea or tourista, hepatitis A, amoebiasis... :

Wash your hands often with soap (water is insufficient), only drink bottled water that is sealed (open bottle in front of you) or made drinkable (portable filter, disinfectant, boil for 5 minutes), peel fruit yourself, pasteurise or boil milk, avoid raw vegetables or cooked food eaten cold, even if stored in the refrigerator, local unbottled water, shellfish, reheated dishes, ice cubes and ice cream, in some regions, inquire locally about the toxicity risks of sea fish.


Personal and general hygiene

It is important to guard against bacteria or parasites that may be present in the soil or water:

• Avoid drying clothes outside or on the ground,

• Do not walk barefoot on beaches,

• Do not lie down on the sand,

• Wear closed shoes on muddy or wet ground,

• Do not walk or bathe in fresh water,

• Do not pet animals.


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