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See what these travel-related diseases are, what their symptoms include, who is at risk, and if there are vaccines that can help prevent them. For more information (and additional diseases) see MyHealth.Alberta.ca's Travel Health and the Government of Canada's Travel Health and Safety Diseases.

Malaria

What is it?
Malaria is a common life-threatening disease in many tropical and subtropical areas. It is caused by one of five species of parasite and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. In 2015 there were 214 million cases of malaria and an estimated 438 000 deaths. 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa.

What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of malaria are fever, headache, nausea, and body pain. Fever is almost always a symptom and it may come and go.
Malaria can progress from no symptoms to severe illness rapidly and in some cases cause death within 36-48 hours. Many travellers’ fall ill with malaria each year and over 10,000 travellers’ fall ill with malaria after returning home.

Who is at risk?
Malaria occurs in most of sub-Saharan Africa and New Guinea; in large areas of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Haiti, Central and South America; and in parts of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, North Africa and the Middle East.

Is there vaccine to help prevent illness?
There is no vaccine for malaria. Anti-malarial medications are available to decrease the risk of developing malaria.

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Yellow Fever

What is it?
Yellow Fever is an illness caused by a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected day-biting mosquito.

What are the symptoms?
Infection causes influenza-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue and muscle aches which can lead to kidney and liver failure. Up to 50% of cases involving jaundice (yellowing of the skin) are fatal.

Who is at risk?
Yellow fever occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Amazon basin of South America. , some areas of Central America and Trinidad and Tobago. Travelers to these areas may be at risk of disease and may also be required to have proof of vaccination before being allowed to enter or cross borders in these areas.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for adults and children aged 9 months and older. Age and health condition may affect eligibility for vaccination.

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Traveller’s Diarrhea

What is it?
Traveller's diarrhea is caused by many types of bacteria, parasites, and viruses. It is spread through contaminated or improperly cooked food and untreated water. Attack rates range from 30% to 70% of travelers,

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include abdominal pain, moderate to severe watery diarrhea usually with a fever and chills.

Who is at risk?
Poor hygiene practice in local restaurants is likely the largest contributor to the risk. Other risk activities include consuming food and water from street vendors or markets and food that is not stored properly.

Is there vaccine to help prevent illness?
We do not recomment vaccines to prevent traveller's diarrhea.

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Japanese Encephalitis

What is it?
Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito and is the leading cause of viral encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

What are the symptoms?
Many cases of JE are mild but when it is severe 20% to 30% of cases result in death. Approximately 30% to 50% of survivors are left with permanent brain damage or paralysis.

Who is at risk?
JE risk is based on many factors including: destination, length of stay, accommodation, activities and season. It occurs in many areas of Asia, mostly in rural agricultural and irrigation areas such as rice paddy’s and pig farms.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for adults and children aged 3 years and older.

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Cholera

What is it?
Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused by a toxin producing bacteria. It is spread by contaminated food and water in developing countries with poor sanitation.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of cholera include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, dehydration, low blood pressure, muscle cramps and thirst. The Infection is often mild but approximately 5-10% of persons will have severe cholera.

Who is at risk?
Humanitarian relief workers and those visiting disaster areas are at an increased risk due to the disruption of water and sanitation systems or the displacement of populations due to overcrowded camps.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for adults and children aged 2 years and older.

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Typhoid Fever

What is it?
Typhoid fever is an illness caused by bacteria that are spread through food and water contaminated with the feces or urine of infected people.

What are the symptoms?
Persons with typhoid fever usually have a high fever, weakness, stomach pains, headache and loss of appetite. Some people also develop a flat rose coloured spotted rash.

Who is at risk?
Individuals travelling in countries where sanitation is poor are at greatest risk of typhoid infection. High risk activities include consuming food and water from street vendors, and markets. Even short visits with friends and family can put travellers’ at high risk of typhoid in some areas.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for adults and children aged 2 years and older.

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Hepatitis  A

What is it?
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver caused by a virus. It is spread through food and water contaminated with the feces or urine of infected people and by direct contact with infected people or objects.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include high fever, yellowing of eyes and skin, nausea, vomiting and severe fatigue.

Who is at risk?
Hepatitis A occurs in most areas of the world and studies estimate that 44% to 55% of reported infections are linked to travel.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for adults and children aged 6 months and older.

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Hepatitis B

What is it?
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver caused by a virus. It is highly contagious and is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases affecting travellers’.   Hepatitis B is spread by contact with blood or body fluids.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include tiredness, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, stomach and joint pain, dark coloured urine and light coloured stool and yellowing of eyes and skin.

Who is at risk?
Activities such as unprotected sex, sharing needles, tattooing or acupuncture put travelers at increased risk.  In addition, medical treatments and receiving blood products in some countries may also be a source of infection.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for all ages.

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Meningitis

What is it?
Meningococcal disease is an infection of the brain and spinal cord caused by bacteria. It includes meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain), and meningococcemia (infection of the blood).  The disease is spread by contact with the saliva of infected persons through kissing, coughing, and sharing of food and drinks.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, stiff neck, vomiting and possibly a bruise-like rash.  The disease can be fatal without quick diagnosis and treatment.

Who is at risk?
Risk to travellers is highest in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and increases during the dry season of December to June.  Vaccine is also required for travelers to Hajj and Umra.  Periodic outbreaks also can occur worldwide

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for adults and children aged 2 months and older.

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Rabies

What is it?
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that is spread to humans through close contact with the saliva of an infected animal, by a bite, scratch, or lick.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can range from fever and headache to anxiety, confusion, and seizures. Rabies is 100 % fatal if appropriate medical measures are not taken.  No treatment can cure rabies once symptoms appear.

Who is at risk?
Risk to travellers is higher in areas with large unvaccinated animal populations such as South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Worldwide, dog bites are responsible for most human cases of rabies.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for all ages.

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Polio

What is it?
Poliomyelitis (Polio) is an infectious disease caused by three types of poliovirus.  The virus enters the body through the mouth by contaminated feces and through nose and throat mucus.

What are the symptoms?
Mild symptoms of polio can be fever, tiredness, headache, nausea and vomiting.  Severe symptoms may include neck stiffness, arm and leg pain, permanent paralysis and death.

Who is at risk?
Polio still occurs in some countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.  In recent years some countries have been re-infected due to travellers bringing the virus into the country.  Several countries require official documentation of a recent dose of polio vaccine prior to exit.

Is there a vaccine to help prevent illness?
Vaccine is available for adults and children aged 6 weeks and older.

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