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Health & Counseling Center

hcc ritchie center

Travel Medicine

General Disease Prevention


  • Life-threatening illness
  • Carried and transmitted by mosquitos


  • Prophylactic medications are available. Discuss appropriate medications with a medical provider
  • Use bug spray with DEET
  • Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk
  • Wear protective clothing

Travelers' Diarrhea

  • One of the most common ailment among travelers
  • Food and water borne illnesses
  • Rule of Thumb: "Cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it"
  • Stay hydrated especially if diarrhea occurs
  • Antibiotics are available if symptoms persist

High Altitude Travel

  • Can result in headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea
  • Severe altitude sickness can include confusion, difficulty breathing and death
  • Stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and slowly ascending and descending from high altitudes may reduce the risk of developing altitude sickness
  • Medications can be used to prevent and treat altitude sickness
  • When in doubt, descend
  • Discuss travel to high altitude destinations with your health care provider PRIOR to leaving

Typhoid Fever

  • Potentially life-threatening food/drink borne bacterial illness
  • Symptoms include fever, stomach pains, headache and rash
  • Vaccine is available for prevention, booster given every 2 years if needed.


  • Food/drink borne bacterial illness
  • Diarrhea can cause severe life-threatening fluid loss
  • No vaccine/immunization is available in the United States
  • Prevented by taking appropriate food and water precautions

Hepatitis A

  • Serious liver disease caused by Hepatitis A virus
  • Contaminated food/water borne viral illness
  • Vaccine is available for prevention, series of 2 shots given over a period of 6-18 months
  • Proper hand-washing with soap prior to preparing and eating food decreases the risk of infection
  • Illness conveys immunity

Hepatitis B

  • Serious disease that affects the liver
  • Blood/body fluid borne viral infection
  • Vaccine is available for prevention of the illness - requires 3 doses of vaccine over 6 months
  • Prevention includes decreasing the number of sexual partners, using condoms, avoid sharing personal items that might have blood on them, do not reuse needles, do not get piercings or tattoos from individuals or facilities with questionable cleanliness practices


  • Serious viral infection of the central nervous system
  • Once symptoms arise, survival rate is low
  • Transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal
  • Two series of vaccines are available for prevention and treatment of rabies
  • Pre-exposure vaccine is recommended for travelers who will be in direct contact with animals where rabies is common
  • Injections can be given to a victim if exposed to a rabid animal


  • Polio is a viral infection that is preventable through vaccination
  • Symptoms can include paralysis, including the muscles used in breathing, and death
  • The last reported case of polio in the United States was in 1979
  • Verify completion of childhood polio vaccinations at least 8 weeks prior to going to areas where polio cases still occur
  • Booster vaccines are recommended for certain travelers

Tuberculosis (TB)

  • TB is a bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs, brain or kidneys
  • TB is spread by a person with active TB disease through coughing, sneezing, singing or laughing
  • TB infection can be silent (latent) in the body
  • People can be tested for TB with a skin or blood test
  • Both active and latent TB should be treated with an antibiotic

Japanese Encephalitis (JE)

  • JE is caused by a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes
  • Most people are asymptomatic, others may have fever, headache and a severe brain infection
  • Vaccine is recommended for travelers to high risk areas
  • Prevention includes the use of insect repellent with DEET, protective clothing and remaining in well screened areas

Dengue Fever

  • Dengue Fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) are viral diseases transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes
  • The mosquito may feed at any time during the day especially indoors, in shady areas or when it is overcast
  • Dengue Fever is characterized by sudden onset of high fevers, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and rash
  • The disease usually does not require treatment but can be prolonged
  • Dengue Fever can also present as a severe, sometimes fatal bleeding disorder
  • No vaccine or preventive medication is available
  • Using insect repellent with DEET, protective clothing and remaining in well-screened areas is helpful for prevention

Yellow Fever

  • Yellow Fever is a severe viral disease transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes
  • Illness ranges in severity from a flu-like illness to severe liver infection and bleeding from multiple body sites
  • 50 percent of cases are fatal
  • Yellow Fever is preventable by a single dose of a safe, effective vaccine
  • The Yellow Fever vaccine is available at the University of Denver Health and Counseling Center which is an authorized United States Yellow Fever vaccine center
  • Using insect repellent with DEET, protective clothing and remaining in well-screened areas is helpful for prevention

This information provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. To find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject, call the Student Health and Counseling Center or talk to your family doctor.