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Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The disease infects the small bowel and causes painless, watery diarrhoea. It is transmitted through infected water that has been contaminated by faeces and sometimes food. Man is the only host.
The disease is found throughout the world particularly in countries where sanitation is poor, such as Africa, India and South East Asia. The risk is greater for relief workers and those working in slums and refugee camps.
The disease causes rapid onset of watery diarrhoea and vomiting. This can lead to extreme dehydration and medical attention is required urgently as victims can die quickly without prompt treatment and rehydration. The vaccine is highly effective, and is administered orally in two doses between one and six weeks apart.
This is a highly contagious bacterial disease spread mainly by the exhalation of water droplets. It is associated with the nose and throat, and sometimes with the skin. Symptoms include fever, sore throat and breathing difficulties. It is fatal in up to 10% of cases. All children should be vaccinated against diphtheria as part of their routine primary vaccination schedule. Adults should consider receiving a booster vaccine when travelling to parts of the world where diphtheria is widespread.
Hepatitis A is the most common type of viral hepatitis. It is an infection of the
liver transmitted by the 'faecal-
The virus which leads to inflammation and swelling of the liver. Some people with
hepatitis A do not have any symptoms. Others may have flu-
Hepatitis B is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. Hepatitis
B, a virus that infects the liver, is passed from one person to the other by blood
and body fluids through unprotected sex, or the sharing needles or syringes amongst
drug users. It is also transmitted easily from minor injuries such as a graze from
a playground, and from contaminated instruments used during acupuncture and medical
or dental procedures. Another source of transmission is through instruments used
Hepatitis B infections are either acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis B can last from
a few weeks to a few months and you may recover yourself. Chronic hepatitis B is
a disease that may remain for life and can lead to serious liver diseases, including
liver cancer. The vaccine provide effective protection of over 80%.
Japanese encephalitis is caused by a virus which is passed to humans by the bite of infected culicine mosquitoes. You cannot catch it from another person.
It is usually a mild illness, but in some cases the illness can be very serious.
The infection may start with fever, tiredness, headache, vomiting, and sometimes
confusion and agitation and then progress to encephalitis -
Malaria is a tropical disease spread from dusk to dawn by the female Anopheline mosquitoes
infected with malaria parasites called plasmodia. When the mosquito bites you, it
injects the parasites into your body and infection requires only one bite. The incubation
period can be as short as a week, and as long as a year after being bitten. Any type
of malaria is dangerous but malaria caused by the falciparum parasite is the most
serious. It can develop very rapidly and lead to severe illness and death. It is
very important to get good advice and the right preventative tablets if you are travelling
to a malarial region.
Meningitis is inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal
cord, called the meninges. There are several types of meningitis. The most common
is viral meningitis, which you get when a virus enters the body through the nose
or mouth and travels to the brain. Bacterial meningitis is rare, but can be deadly.
It usually starts with bacteria that cause a cold-
Anyone can get meningitis, but it is more common in people whose bodies have trouble
fighting infections. Meningitis can progress rapidly. Early treatment can help prevent
serious problems, including death. Vaccines can prevent some of the bacterial infections
that cause meningitis. A certificate of vaccination may be required if you are visiting
This is a disease of the central nervous system which is spread through person-
Widespread vaccination has eliminated polio from most of the world, but there are
concerns that complacency may lead to its re-
This is an encephalitic disease (swelling of the brain) which is transmitted to humans from animals, usually from infected dogs. If treated following a bite or a lick to an open wound (even a superficial scratch), the disease may be prevented from taking hold, but if it does, it almost always proves fatal.
Rabies is prevalent in many countries worldwide, but Asia, Africa and South America report more than 95% of human deaths from rabies. In Latin America, the disease is also transmitted to domestic animals by vampire bats. The largest number of human deaths from rabies is reported in India. The vaccine is very effective and preventing rabies from developing following infection.
IF YOU COME INTO CONTACT WITH AN ANIMAL YOU SUSPECT IS RABID, OR IF YOU ARE BITTEN, YOU SHOULD SEEK TREATMENT STRAIGHT AWAY. TOP
The Clostriduim Tetani bacterium is present in soil all over the world, contaminated by human, animal and bird faeces. If you become infected (usually through a cut or graze) you will start to show symptoms around ten days later. The main symptoms are muscle spasms and muscular stiffness and rigidity, usually apparent in the face, with great difficulty in opening the mouth. The disease is often referred to as 'Lockjaw'.
The spasms then travel to the neck and throat muscles then on to the chest, making it difficult to swallow and sometimes even difficult to breathe. Other symptoms associated with this highly unpleasant disease are a high temperature, severe headaches, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), bleeding into the bowels and diarrhoea.
Tetanus can be fatal. Vaccination lasts for about ten years, but can be 'topped up'
before you travel.
TB can affect any part of the body but is most commonly found in the lungs. The most
common symptom is a persistent cough for more than two weeks, with sputum (spit);
this can sometimes be blood-
Typhoid Fever is cause by the Salmonella Typhi bacterium and if not treated with
antibiotics, it will prove fatal through complications in as many as 20% of cases.
it is transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated by the faeces of
an infected person. The symptoms include a high fever (as high as 40°C or 104°F)
loss of fluids through profuse sweating and diarrhoea, gastroenteritis and often
constipation. Vaccination is strongly recommended if you are travelling to regions
where Typhoid is widespread.
Something innocuous as a small graze or cut is all it takes for Clostriduim Tetani to do its thing.
Anopheline, close up. She likes nothing more than to make it up close and personal.
Remember that in many regions, you cannot be certain that medical instruments are safe and sterile.
Joanna Giese, a medical marvel and one of only five people known to have survived rabies. She became infected after picking up a bat in her local church in Wisconsin.