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Travel and illness -- connection?
Old 05-03-2008, 07:32 PM   #1
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Travel and illness -- connection?

In the past twelve months I've been sick 4 times with nasty viruses. I'm talking about flu type viruses that put me out for a week. This in contrast to my previous 12 years in which I can count about 3 similar illnesses. Is it just a coincidence that I've also traveled to Tanzania, Peru, Ecuador, and Costa Rica?

Has anyone else noticed that they get sick more often after traveling overseas?

This has really dampened my enthusiasm for overseas travel.
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Old 05-03-2008, 08:29 PM   #2
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I used to get sick every time I traveled by plane.
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Old 05-04-2008, 09:30 AM   #3
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Last year after travelling to Grand Turk I came down with a nasty virus . It affected my whole system . I was in bed for ten days and out of commision for three weeks . I have never been so sick . I ended up on steroids and antibiotics . This had made me very cautious about were I travel to .
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Old 05-04-2008, 01:35 PM   #4
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I have travelled overseas extensively on business and my worst illnesses have happened on return from such trips (gastroenitritis a couple of times plus viral meningitis).

However I generally believe it is more to do with stress than with flying or traveling overseas per say. I think that continuous stress lowers the body's defenses to viruses and the like.
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Old 05-04-2008, 02:14 PM   #5
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Unless the illnesses happened during or soon after traveling, I'd guess that it's a coincidence.
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Old 05-04-2008, 02:33 PM   #6
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Frequently I get sick on returning home. Could be the dry air in the plane. Being around all those people. I usually end up with a head cold. I think its more along the lines I dont handle the change in altitudes that well.

Then again Im not a Dr. Just some internet Joe

edit. That is strange Al. Same here its usually only when coming home. Not when I go to a place. Might all be in my head.
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Old 05-04-2008, 02:38 PM   #7
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Unless the illnesses happened during or soon after traveling, I'd guess that it's a coincidence.
The 3 examples I gave were immediately after returning from a trip. The 2 gastro episodes were the same year and both immediately after returning from Brussels. Next year BBC Americas had a 5-10 minute article on a recent study released where the water quality of 118 nations was tested and the 3rd worst, just above Morocco and Algeria was Belgium. They showed raw sewage being pumped into rivers and canals, and interviewed the Belgium environmental minister who admitted that they were 20 years behind schedule with their sewage plant rebuilding projects. he also blamed the french (who doesn't?) as many polluted rivers in Belgium originate in France.

The same year of that report some friends went on a self catered narrow boat vacation in France. After a few days, at one of the locks, they asked where and how they could empty the septic tank on the boat. "There is none" was the reply, "have you not noticed that the toilet flushes better when the boat is moving". "Although the EU has water quality standards similar to the USA, the french government ignore it and don't build any places to empty septic tanks on boats so the boat builders don't provide tanks on the boats even though the law says they should"
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Old 05-04-2008, 03:47 PM   #8
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Time, travel and infection
British Medical Bulletin
2004;69 99

"The collapse of distance brought about by changes in transport technology over the last 200 years, linked to massive increases in personal mobility, has affected the transfer of communicable diseases. The geographical extent of many has increased; they appear more frequently in different locations, but they generally occur today as small outbreaks rather than as the massive epidemics witnessed in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition, greater international population flux carries genetic implications for population mixing."

http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/69/1/87.pdf


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Old 05-04-2008, 05:50 PM   #9
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Unless the illnesses happened during or soon after traveling, I'd guess that it's a coincidence.

Mine also happened immediately and when I went to my asthma doctor she questioned me about travel because of my symptoms . I was also much sicker than I have ever been with flus .
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:03 PM   #10
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Good lord, Alan! Gastrointeritis! After Brussels! How awful.

My illnesses (three of them) were also much different from and more severe than any virus I'd experienced in several decades. One can only speculate where I picked up the bug but I was thinking that it was either in those foreign countries or on the airplane. Either alternative makes me really wary of more international travel, at least for a while.

It does make sense that one's immune system is not protected from bugs in foreign countries. We bring 'em home and they start to eat us!
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:08 PM   #11
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In my case it was upper respiratory infections (colds); sometimes shortly after flying out, sometimes shortly after flying back, sometimes both.
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:16 PM   #12
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Good lord, Alan! Gastrointeritis! After Brussels! How awful!
I had 3 days in hospital, and the infectious deseases doctor said it was classic symptoms for malaria. I used to love mussels when I was in Brussels, plus other raw or nearly raw fish, which I immediately stopped.
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:34 PM   #13
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I had 3 days in hospital, and the infectious deseases doctor said it was classic symptoms for malaria. I used to love mussels when I was in Brussels, plus other raw or nearly raw fish, which I immediately stopped.

This gets interesting. One of my illnesses after returning from Tanzania scared me because the symptoms were so like Malaria. So I went to the doctor who said he thought it more likely to be West Nile disease. All the symptoms were very much like West Nile, including the awful stomach ache and vomiting. But my tests all came back negative, $550 later, thankfully.
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