Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
When travelers begin to plan a trip, it is common for them to construct a careful itinerary, evaluate how much money will be needed, and to read about the area they will visit. Perhaps they picture themselves walking along ancient byways or examining grand vistas.
No one ever pictures themselves confined to the hotel for days with diarrhea, yet almost half of travelers to developing countries will end up this way if they don't take precautions. Not only will illness wreck a costly trip, but it may also put some travelers in awkward or even dangerous situations. Sometimes, diseases acquired during travel may have prolonged effects on your health or, in the extreme case, may be fatal. Simple precautions taken prior to travel can reduce your risk of illness far away from home.
Travel to well-developed countries: Travel to tourist areas of Canada, Europe, and other well-developed parts of the world generally doesn't need much preparation-take along a supply of only regular prescription medications and learn how to get health care if you need it. If travel extends beyond the usual tourist routes, or if the traveler has a chronic disease or condition, special precautions may be needed.
Travel to developing countries: Travel to these countries may pose a greater risk to health. You must take precautions before you go and while you are in foreign countries far different from your own. This discussion is not a complete catalogue of all tropical diseases and is not a substitute for the advice of a knowledgeable doctor. It covers diseases of interest to the routine tourist. Serious adventure travelers will need additional resources.