Top Places Around The World You Do Not Want To Get Sick

medicine Worried about getting sick on your travels? You may want to steer clear of the countries below. The World Health Organization has revealed the top countries around the world with the worst healthcare.

While Burma is the worst country to get sick in, the continent of Africa has the most countries with bad healthcare systems on the planet. Other destinations you don’t want to fall ill in include Cambodia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Vanuatu, Samoa and Papua New Guinea. Basically, you should be wary of remote places, and countries without a stable infrastructure or a public healthcare system.

Don’t think you don’t need to take precautions in more developed countries, however, as places like North America have serious diseases like West Nile Virus.

Dr. Deborah Mills, author of “Travelling Well,” explains, “We don’t encourage people to go into warzones, because you can’t stop the bullets flying, but generally even the worst places are safe provided you get proper pre-travel care and get the right information, vaccines and medical kit in case you get sick.”

[photo via Darnyi Zsoka]

SkyMall Monday: Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask ACTUAL REVIEW

Travel is a grimy, germ-filled activity that tests the limits of our tolerance for all things bacterial. Recycled plane air, cramped buses and less-than-hygienic hotel rooms all conspire to infect us. Staying healthy on the road is essential if you want to enjoy your holiday or get the job done on a business trip. However, you also want to look good when you’re traveling so that you can woo a sexy local or dress the part of a savvy business traveler. How do you keep germs at bay while also looking like the dapper gadabout that you are? Rather than compromise form for function, you deserve to look your best while continuing to feel your best. No one knows that better than the mad scientists at SkyMail. That’s why they provide you with a way to deter bacteria while inviting attention. It’s time to get sassy while staying healthy with the Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask.

I traveled with the Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask from the subways of New York City to the wide open spaces of Yellowstone National Park to a hot air balloon in Turkey’s Cappidocia region. Did it keep me healthy and appropriately dressed?

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If you’re an avid SkyMall Monday reader, you’re already familiar with Sling Couture. We reviewed their signature arm sling earlier this year. It kept us looking sophisticated while convalescing. But preventing infections and diseases is a much tougher task. I was skeptical that a flashy mask could help me avoid picking up a bug while on the road, so I put it through a series of rigorous tests.

Available in 12 styles, there’s a Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask to suit every person and mood. I tested Red Glitter, which brought out my eyes.

I headed underground to the New York City subway armed with my Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask and stood prominently in the middle of a train car. New York City subway trains are far from sanitary. Along with muffled announcements and loud music escaping from headphones, coughing is a ubiquitous sound on the subway. No matter how many people wheezed, coughed or sneezed, I stood clear of the closing doors in my shiny mask and stood out as a fashion icon in a city known for style.

From there, I took the skies and flew west to Jackson, WY. Planes are Petri dishes of bacteria. The air is stale, the space is cramped and you can feel every cough and sneeze on the back of your neck. However, I read the SkyMall catalog with no problem despite several passengers sounding as if they had typhoid. And I did so while not being one of those overly casual fliers wearing a tracksuit.

The toughest test of all soon followed as the Fashion Face Mask came with me to Turkey. The air in Istanbul is thick. Approximately 12 million people live in Turkey’s largest city and, despite its many cosmopolitan neighborhoods, it still struggles to fully modernize. As I crossed the Bospherus from Asia to Europe, I donned my mask. I stayed healthy while also looking as if I belonged in the European Capital of Culture.

If there is one downside to the Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask, it’s that the mask itself is not particularly breathable. But breathability is not a major concern when evaluating face masks. They are less like doctors masks and more similar to masks used by painters or construction workers. That said, they do a fantastic job at keeping asbestos at bay.

Travel is taxing, exhausting and, at times, sickening. Protect yourself and celebrate your style with the Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask. You’ll look good, feel good and only slightly confuse everyone around you.

Be sure to check out the gallery of photos from my travels with the Sling Couture Fashion Face Mask.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

50% of air travelers will fly with the flu to avoid a fee

I’m a one of the those people who always seems to get sick after a long plane ride. A few days post-trip, I suddenly get a runny nose, sore throat and all the other telltale signs of a cold, most likely contracted from a sick passenger. Usually it’s minor, and I’m out of commission for only a few days.

I guess I’ve just been lucky that it hasn’t been the flu, because, according to a recent TripAdvisor survey, over 50% of travelers would choose flying with the flu over paying a fee to change their flight. As if we needed more reason to get a flu shot before we travel this season, now we know that someone with the flu may end up on our flight, just to avoid the fee.

Out of 2,327 people, 51% said they would fly while sick with the flu rather than pay the $150-$200 fee (plus any change in price) imposed by most airlines in order to change their flights to a later date. This is obviously, alarming news, but I can see why it is the case that people would rather cough up some germs on their fellow passengers than cough up the extra cash to change the tickets. Especially because costs for the new dates will often be higher, meaning you may end up paying more like $300-$400 per ticket for the change.

In the case of inescapable commitments, I can understand why someone would not change the ticket. But for a leisure trip, I would consider it. Of course, I don’t want to get others sick, but from a purely selfish standpoint, I don’t want to spend my time in the air shaking and shivering with the flu, or to spend my entire vacation laid up in bed. But then again…if I felt well enough to get on the plane despite having the flu, I would definitely do it rather than incur the extra charges and have to change all my travel plans.

On his blog, Christopher Elliot offers a solution – airlines need to lower or waive the change fees during flu season. We need to stop financially penalizing those who get sick and allow them to change their flights easily, or they will continue to fly and risk spreading the flu to other passengers.

Don’t let illness wreck travel: Be prepared

If you read Gadling’s travel series Catching the Travel Bug about being sick on the road, you found stories that attest to the fact that even seasoned travelers get sick from time to time. Travel to a new place and there are germs that your body is just not used to. But, if you’re prepared, whatever bug you catch won’t stick around to totally ruin a vacation or linger with continued health problems once you return.

Before you embark on a trip, make sure you’re immunizations are up to par. According to the World Health Organization, only 34% of the people who travel to places with hepatitis A get immunized against it. Dumb. When heading to places with malaria, only 8% take malaria prevention pills. Double dumb. The result of this neglect is that 30,000 travelers get malaria every year. Gad!

Considering that even a cold can put a damper on a vacation, malaria would do a real number. Typhoid wouldn’t be too swell either, another disease that’s preventable with a shot. In the Columbus Dispatch article where I read about this laxness towards immunization, one doctor told about a family who refused to get immunized when heading to a country in Africa known to be a high risk area. The teenage boy came home with typhoid as a result. He ate street food, and worse, drank local water.

In general, I think street food is not a problem if it’s being served cooked, it’s hot–meaning coming right off a grill, and you can see it being prepared, but local water? Nope.

Although getting immunized can add to the sticker price of a trip, it’s money well spent. Both malaria pills and immunizations have a certain time frame to be administered in order for them to be effective. If you’re planning on going to a country that is high risk where these treatments are recommended, don’t wait until it’s too late.

By the way, if you do get those shots, hang onto the record of when you got them. Some are good for several years so you can make the sticker price of shots go down by taking another trip to one of these locations before a shot expires.

Here is a link to a resource for what health details need to be taken care of before you travel to most African countries. And, here’s a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has other travel health information.

Winona Ryder gets a British Airways airplane priority landing status. Could you?

Two days ago, Winona Ryder’s British Airways flight to Heathrow airport was granted priority landing status after Ryder became sick on the plane. Jaunted’s blurb doesn’t say how she got ill. One wonders was it the food? Is this normal for her? What about me or you? Could we get special treatment? Could we get a plane to land before all the others?

I was on a flight once when the plane turned around before it took off because a woman was complaining of being sick. She did keep hitting herself in the face as she was being led to the ambulance that whisked her away. As much as going back to the gate wasn’t a fun picnic, it was a good thing that she was let off the plane. Better that she was hitting herself in the face as she was getting off the plane than miles up in the air.

A quick Google search found these two articles about other diverted flights.

In October, on a United Airlines flight to LA, a flight was diverted to O’Hare International Airport after a dozen or so passengers complained of being sick.

Back in March, a flight from the Dominican Republic to Canada landed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida after eight passengers became ill.

What isn’t clear is how sick is sick. “I feel sick,” one might say. Does this mean, “I have gas,” “I have a slight headache,” “I feel as if I could hurl all over myself,” or “I think I’m having a heart attack and won’t live to see another day?” Any parent with a child has played twenty questions at times to find out just what ‘sick” means.

The woman I saw hitting herself in the face did say she wasn’t feeling right as rain when she got on the plane. The flight attendant did try to soothe her nerves, but with no luck, thus the diversion.

It seems that diverting a plane because of an engine failure or when the toilet pump is burning would be a much easier call to make. Sick? Kind of vague. And I still wonder, if you’re Winona, could you get that plane to land faster?

Winona did go to the hospital after she got off the plane, but only for a couple of hours.