It’s a pretty specific trend, which makes you wonder just what the hell is going on. According to the latest data from travel insurance provider WorldNomads.com, more than 65 percent of all major claims submitted by UK travelers are for injuries sustained in Asia. North America, on the other hand, is only good for 25 percent … I guess there aren’t too many Brits twisting their ankles on the Times Square sidewalks. Nineteen percent of the claims involved road travel accidents, and there was a shocking increase in mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Dengue Fever and Malaria, which are responsible for 14 percent of claims.
“The rising increase in incidents relating to road traffic accidents and mosquito borne diseases is of great concern and traveler education needs to play a large role assisting to reduce this,” says Nick Pound of WorldNomads.com. “Travelers also need to understand that the rules of the road that apply at home in the UK are thrown out the window when traveling by road through Asia. Extra precaution when crossing roads, driving scooters and hire cars needs to be taken.”
Dengue is a viral illness spread by infected Aedes mosquitoes and is no longer confined to Southeast Asia. It’s now more common in Latin America, Asia, Africa, North America and even Australia. Nicknamed “breakbone fever” because of the muscle cramping it causes, Degue has no specific treatment and carries a case fatality rate of 40 percent to 50 percent if left untreated (and if it progresses to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever).
“Travelers headed to areas with Dengue activity should travel prepared to do what they can to prevent mosquito bites. Caution should also be used when looking at the time of year traveling occurs, especially during rainy seasons,” comments Dr. Erik McLaughlin, WorldNomads.com’s roving medical expert.
“Dengue is a serious and persistent health risk and savvy travelers need to be aware of it and start getting used to taking proper precautions.”
Act 3 of This American Life‘s episode 399 plays on one of my greatest travel curiosities: the efficacy of malaria medication.
As any visitor to a tropical or sub-tropical climate can attest, anti-malaria medication is a strongly recommended supplement, before, during and often after travel. It is an arduous and time consuming medication to handle; depending on the drug prescribed, side effects can include wild dreams, hallucinations and other curiosities, all well after the prescription has run its course. Worse, the pills don’t even vaccinate the host — they just slow down the infection while the person has time to get to the hospital.
For this reason among others, many travelers choose to blow off the medication. And now there may be another reason: memory loss. The third act of TAL’s episode 399 is the story of David MacLean, an American Fulbright Scholar working in India back in 2002. It picks up with Mr. MacLean regaining consciousness in a crowded train station with absolutely no memory, no passport and no idea how he got there — only a wallet and a few local friends and a family back in Ohio to help him put the pieces back together.
The source of the memory loss? Lariam, a once-weekly anti malaria medication commonly prescribed in 2002. You’ll have to listen to the show (act 3 starts at around 35:00 on the free podcast/web audio player) to hear about what happens, but the story is gripping, heavy and a bit scary.
Another Friday is upon us here at Gadling, and after that balloon kid fiasco yesterday, which also happened to be Blog Action Day, I think we need a good few days of rest. So cuddle up with these cool weekend reads and enjoy what I hope will be a drama-free weekend!
‘Til Monday, have a great weekend!
More Gadlinks HERE.
One of the scariest things when you travel is encountering crazy insects in the places you visit. For some reason, I always seem to encounter bugs the size of my hand that look like something out of Aliens and generally pack a pretty nasty bite and/or sting.
Seems I’m not the only one, because the gang over at Environmental Graffiti have put together a list of the 10 most diabolical insects on Earth, with some down right nasty bugs making an appearance. For instance, cockroaches make the list in the number 10 spot. According to the story there are more than 4000 different species of cockroaches, many of which can grow quite large. And lets not forget the ever popular hissing cockroach that make foul noises to go along with their other foul habits.
Mosquitos earn their number 2 ranking by virute of the deadly diseases they have a propensity to spread. The article says that this tiny insect may be responsible for the death of over half the humans that have ever lived thanks to malaria and yellow fever. And that’s just the beginning of the scary mosquito facts.
The other eight bugs are just as nasty and will probably make your skin crawl. But if you like creepy crawly things, you’ll get a kick out of the list.
So, what’s the craziest bug you’ve seen while traveling?
If you’ve traveled to a tropical country, you’ve probably heard of Mefloquine. It is the most popular prophylactic against malaria, and is often sold under its trade name, Lariam. Lariam can have some serious side effects such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, nightmares and insomnia. You might say, “having nightmares is better than catching malaria and ending up in a hospital or worse.” I’m sure everyone would agree with that.
But when you wake up in a strange foreign land after a Lariam-induced nightmare…and you aren’t quite sure if you are really awake or if your waking state is just another extension of your dream, it can be pretty unnerving.
After such an experience, you might ask yourself if it is really necessary to ingest Mefloquine every time you enter a tropical region. I’ve known people who pop the little pills once a week when they are in Hong Kong or Singapore where the chance of catching malaria is akin to the chance that you will win the lottery. I guess some travelers choose to err on the side of caution when they enter any unfamiliar place.I haven’t even mentioned the host of shots and other pills that some guidebooks and doctors say you might want to consider. Typhoid is a big one. Cholera is another. Neither of these have vaccines that are 100% effective and they can bring about particularly nasty side effects. That doesn’t stop doctors from recommending them and people from getting the shots.
So what do you really need when you are traveling in a developing, tropical country? I guess it depends on how apprehensive you are. For me, Lariam and obscure vaccines are out unless I find that I am entering an area where a particular disease is truly a threat (see the WHO web site if you want to research a country you plan to visit). I also keep up to date on basic immunizations like tetanus and Hep B. And keep in mind, no matter how Lariam happy you get, there are diseases like SARS and H5N1 out there to remind us that health concerns are always going to be a scary part of traveling. And so I ask you, Gadling readers: what do you consider a necessary part of your travel-sized medicine cabinet?