By Dr Sharoni Mahabaduge, Private GP
Published in ICI Londres, June 2015
Returning from a holiday in a tropical country can occasionally be concerning: 24-64% report travel-related health problems with up to 8% ill enough to seek help from a doctor.
Tropical diseases are infections occurring in countries with a tropical environment, for example malaria or yellow fever. The most common symptoms related tropical diseases are fever, skin rashes, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, headaches, tiredness, weight loss, cough and shortness of breath.
Things to do without consulting a doctor:
Mosquito bite prevention, malaria prophylaxis, bottled water, avoid tap water, ice cubes, fresh salads, sea food etc. Check you temperature.
When to consult a doctor?
These symptoms are very unspecific and can mimic a common cold or a flu-like illness but also the beginning of a serious illness. Discussing with your doctor where, when and for how long you have travelled, the type of activities you did, the regions and type of places you visited, if you had vaccinations prior to your travel, how long it took for the symptoms to start are all helpful elements for diagnosing a tropical disease.
Fever is the most common symptom and can be associated with flu but also malaria, dengue and other haemorrhagic fevers, Hepatitis A, typhoid, acute traveller’s diarrhoea or any infectious diseases.
Other symptoms like rashes, respiratory problems, abdominal pains, diarrhoea, urinary symptoms and fatigue can be due to tropical diseases and are worth being investigated.
What are the possible diagnostic tools?
At +richmond practice we offer same day appointments. Our private GPs can carry out malaria screening, blood tests for specific tropical diseases and process stool and urine samples where necessary. We can then decide whether you have a tropical disease and advise on the appropriate management.