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Around the World in 5 Diseases: How and Where You'll Get Sick While Traveling

Thinking of taking a trip? Recent outbreaks of these common diseases might just change your mind.

From dengue fever to swine flu, 2017 has already been a disastrous year for disease outbreaks.

Hepatitis A: Colorado

According to local health officials, the state has seen 26 cases of hepatitis A since January 2017. That’s more than it usually sees in a year.

Hepatitis A is transmitted when someone ingests food or drink that has come into contact with contaminated feces. Certain sexual acts — especially anal play — can also lead to transmission.

Fortunately, Hep A is rarely fatal. The easiest way to prevent it is to get the Twinrex vaccine, which protects against both Hep A and B.

Dengue Fever: Kenya

Health officials in Mombasa County, Kenya have issued an alert over an outbreak of this potentially fatal, mosquito-borne disease. In the seaside city of Mombasa, more than 100 cases of dengue fever have been reported.

Though dengue is more likely to spread in crowded or unhygienic areas, heavy rains can also make it easier for mosquitoes to breed. Symptoms are similar to the flu, at first. Occasionally, the disease develops into severe dengue.

As one of Kenya’s top tourist destinations, Mombasa sees thousands of visitors every year. Many arrive on cruise ships from Seychelles.

Yellow Fever: Brazil

In 2017, confirmed cases of yellow fever were reported in several states across the Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro State, São Paulo State, Espírito Santo, and Minas Gerais.

Spread by mosquitoes, symptoms tend to develop three to six days after a bite. Chills, fever, headaches, backaches, and muscle pain are common. For every 20 people who contract the disease, three develop a more serious form that can lead to shock, organ failure, bleeding, and in rare cases, death.

The CDC recently advised American travelers planning on visiting Brazil to get vaccinated, and whenever possible, prevent mosquito bites.

Chikungunya: Central and South America

Another mosquito-borne virus, chikungunya causes the sudden onset of severe joint pain and fever.

Last year saw nearly 147,000 laboratory-confirmed cases in the World Health Organization’s Pan-American Health Organization office, with an estimated 350,000 suspected cases. Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, and Argentina reported the highest number of cases, while 2017 statistics point to 24,000 suspected cases across the Americas.

H1N1: Kerala, India

This year alone, swine flu has claimed at least 23 lives in the state of Kerala in southern India. Since the disease first appeared in the region in 2009, it has become a seasonal occurrence.

H1N1 is transmitted the same way as the flu. People who have it sneeze or cough, sending contaminated droplets into the air. Coming into contact with these droplets can make you sick. People with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or kidney problems are especially at risk.

For now, Indian health officials say there’s no cause for panic. Kerala is one of the most popular destinations in all of India, and attracted more than one million foreign tourists in 2016.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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