Last Updated on November 8, 2023 by Editor G
Traveling offers incredible experiences, but it’s important to be aware of health risks, particularly diseases that can be deadly. Here are ten such diseases, complete with statistics and prevention strategies, and the regions where they are most prevalent.
Affecting over 200 million people annually and causing over 400,000 deaths, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease with symptoms like fever and chills. Preventative measures include antimalarial medication and mosquito avoidance strategies.
Most prevalent in: Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America.
An acute viral hemorrhagic disease, Yellow Fever results in approximately 30,000 deaths each year, despite an effective vaccine being available. It’s prevalent in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America.
Most prevalent in: Brazil, Nigeria, and Ghana.
With up to 400 million infections yearly, Dengue fever can lead to severe hemorrhagic symptoms. Aedes mosquitoes, found in tropical climates, are the primary carriers.
Most prevalent in: Brazil, Philippines, and Indonesia.
TB infects about a quarter of the world’s population, with 10 million cases and 1.4 million deaths reported in 2019. Multidrug-resistant TB remains a public health crisis.
Most prevalent in: India, China, and Indonesia.
Around 38 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS, with 1.7 million individuals newly infected in 2019. Sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of the global HIV burden.
Most prevalent in: South Africa, Nigeria, and Mozambique.
Hepatitis A and E
These viral liver diseases are usually transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or water, with Hepatitis A causing an estimated 11,000 deaths in 2015.
Most prevalent in: India, Nigeria, and Nepal for Hepatitis A; and central and east Asia for Hepatitis E.
Cholera, with its severe diarrheal symptoms, is most common in places with inadequate water treatment. There are an estimated 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths annually.
Most prevalent in: Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Haiti.
Each year, there are about 11-20 million cases and between 128,000 and 161,000 typhoid-related deaths. Vaccination is key to prevention.
Most prevalent in: India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Rabies causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, despite being preventable through vaccination. More than 95% of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa following dog bites.
Most prevalent in: India, China, and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
While rare, EVD has a high fatality rate, with the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa resulting in more than 11,000 deaths.
Most prevalent in: Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, and South Sudan.
While these statistics may seem daunting, taking proper precautions like vaccinations, practicing safe eating and drinking habits, and avoiding certain risks can mitigate the dangers. Consult travel health resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers’ Health page for up-to-date information and recommendations. Remember, informed preparation is the key to healthy travel.
|Disease||Most Prevalent In||Vaccinations||Symptoms||Treatments|
|Malaria||Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, South America||Antimalarial prophylaxis||Fever, chills, flu-like illness||Antimalarial drugs|
|Yellow Fever||Brazil, Nigeria, Ghana||Yellow fever vaccine||Fever, muscle pain, jaundice||Supportive care|
|Dengue||Brazil, Philippines, Indonesia||None||Fever, rash, muscle and joint pain||Pain relievers, hydration|
|Tuberculosis (TB)||India, China, Indonesia||BCG vaccine (where TB is common)||Cough, fever, weight loss||Antibiotics|
|HIV/AIDS||South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique||None||Flu-like symptoms, weight loss||Antiretroviral therapy|
|Hepatitis A and E||India, Nigeria, Nepal (Hep A); Central and East Asia (Hep E)||Hepatitis A vaccine||Jaundice, fever, stomach pain||Supportive care|
|Cholera||Yemen, DRC, Haiti||Oral cholera vaccine||Severe diarrhea, dehydration||Rehydration, antibiotics|
|Typhoid Fever||India, Pakistan, Bangladesh||Typhoid vaccine||Fever, headache, stomach pain||Antibiotics|
|Rabies||India, China, DRC||Pre-exposure rabies vaccination||Fever, headache, neurological symptoms||Immediate post-exposure vaccination|
|Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)||DRC, Guinea, South Sudan||None widely available||Fever, severe headache, hemorrhaging||Supportive care, experimental treatments|
Gareth Evans is a travel writer and entrepreneur living life as a digital nomad. Gareth has been based in Bangkok for the last 8 months.