Hyderabad: With more than one billion people crossing international borders every year, the transmission of infections is now at an all time high. Travel alerts issued by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are not known to many travellers who don’t take the necessary precautions.
The most common diseases carried or contracted by travellers are malaria, dengue, yellow fever, tuberculosis, travellers diarrhoea and hepatitis, according to Global Travel EpiNet which has studied data of 20 years.
Dr Sunitha Nagireddy of the infectious disease control unit at Apollo Hospitals, said, “The spread of the infection is because travellers are spending long hours in aeroplanes where one infected person can spread the infection to those who are immune compromised. We are noting a lot of cross transmission of diseases; those which were seen only in some regions of the globe are now finding their way into countries where the population is very high. This leads to larger spread of the disease.”
The transmission of H1N1 influenza virus is the latest case. It has spread widely and required increased surveillance and monitoring. Travellers and companies must understand the alerts issued and take pro-active steps to ensure that health risks are minimised. Dr S. Shiva of the epidemiology wing of the stat government said, “It’s very important to take the yellow fever vaccine if travelling to Africa. Compliance is a must and airports must check to ensure that the shots have been taken from the right authority. When this is not done problems arise.”
In the study carried out by GTEN, it was found that most travellers developed symptoms in the country they visited and developed the full-blown disease in either their own country or the next country that they visited.
Dr P.N.S. Reddy, senior pulmonologist, said most respiratory illnesses seen in travellers are due to the exposure to new viruses. “Some of them are self-limiting in nature while others require prolonged treatment. Like during the annual pilgrimage of Haj we find a lot of pilgrims coming back with respiratory problems. Some of them are found to be on medication for a span of two to three months,” he said.
But what is very difficult to determine is the actual place of origin of the infection. While the World Health Organisation and CDC are constantly issuing alerts, the action at the ground level to sensitise the people to take the required precautions continues to be a challenge....