If you’re traveling abroad, it’s crucial to consider parasites and their potential dangers. Some parasites are extremely harmful, requiring treatment, while others can cause very few problems. The severity of your illness will depend on the number of parasites in your body but in general, most travelers are not affected by parasites. Still, if you’re experiencing the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor.

Some parasites live in water and may be transmitted to humans by eating undercooked meat or cleaning the litter box. While chlorine kills most parasites, not all of them are. You can also be at risk for parasites if you handle unwashed produce, undercooked seafood, or clean a cat’s litter box. Other potential sources of parasitic exposure include caring for children at daycare centers or participating in outdoor activities.

Most travel-related illnesses are caused by contaminated food and water. Thirty to fifty percent of travelers will return home with gastrointestinal illnesses. While the majority of these cases are caused by bacteria, intestinal parasites can cause similar symptoms and are especially dangerous when untreated water is present. One common type is giardiasis, a single-celled organism that is transmitted from beaver to human. Washing your hands thoroughly before eating and drinking can help prevent this illness.

To prevent the development of a parasitic infection, consult a medical professional. Your doctor will order tests to identify the parasite and determine a treatment plan. The sooner you find out about a parasite, the better. Always use an effective insect repellent and eat only thoroughly cooked meat and fish. Also, drink only filtered water when traveling to infested areas. It’s always best to avoid mosquito bites and malaria.


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