Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Malaria and Other Travel-Related Infections

Each travel-related infectious disease is the result of a unique parasite, virus, bacterium or fungus. These microorganisms can be transferred to humans in a variety of ways, including:

  • Mosquito bites
  • Flea bites
  • Tick bites
  • Tsetse fly bites
  • Contaminated water
  • Contaminated food
  • Undercooked food
  • Contaminated soil
  • Contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids and feces
  • Sexual contact
  • Breathing spores carried by the wind

Most of these diseases can be avoided by taking precautions to avoid the spread of the disease or, in some cases, by being vaccinated against the disease.

Diagnosing travel-related infections

The tests for diagnosing travel-related infections depend on the disease and the bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that cause it. For example:

  • Avian flu diagnosis is based on a swab of nasal or throat secretions.
  • Cholera is diagnosed by culturing the bacteria in a stool sample.
  • Dengue fever can be diagnosed with a blood test that looks for the antibody, although a liver function test may also be required.
  • Malaria can be diagnosed by a blood smear that’s viewed under a microscope.
  • Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome can be detected in respiratory secretions, blood and stool samples.
  • Yellow fever tests use blood samples.
  • Zika can be diagnosed through blood or urine.

Diagnostic Tests