What Are Malaria and Other Travel-Related Infections?

Many infectious diseases that are controlled or have been eradicated in the United States still exist in other countries. Travelers should be aware of what diseases carried by parasites, bacteria, viruses and fungi are active in the countries they are visiting.

Some of the most common travel-related infections include:

  • Avian flu: Avian, or bird flu is currently rare among travelers, but the virus can cause eye infections, flu-like symptoms, pneumonia and death.
  • Cholera: This bacteria spread by ingesting contaminated water or food. Cholera causes diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
  • Dengue fever: A virus spread by mosquitoes, dengue causes fever, headache, rash, vomiting, and pain in the eyes, muscles and joints.
  • Hepatitis E: This liver disease is spread when you drink contaminated water or eat undercooked animal products.
  • Malaria: More than 1,500 American travelers get this mosquito-borne illness every year. Its symptoms include high fever, chills and flu-like symptoms. Complications can be quite serious.
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV): This viral illness was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to several countries.
  • Yellow fever: Another virus spread by mosquitoes, yellow fever can be very serious for about 15 percent of people, causing bleeding and organ failure.
  • Zika: This mosquito-borne disease is usually mild but can be very harmful to unborn babies. Pregnant women or those who are considering pregnancy should avoid travel to areas with the Zika virus.

Whether you are taking a cruise to the Caribbean, a safari in Africa or a cultural tour of southeast Asia, find out more about the vaccinations and precautions you should take to stay healthy on vacation and when you return.