Rice Field, Bali, Indonesia © Andrew Ingersoll
by Andrew Ingersoll
As frequent travelers, we need to be aware of some of the potential hazards of our hobby.
While I was attending the University of Sydney, I was able to take a travel and take a topical medicine course as apart of my Master’s degree. While I don’t advocate everyone jump into a postgraduate course, we should be taking the opportunity to educate ourselves on where we are going and what to expect.
In the winter of 2009, I returned to Australia by — gasp — purchasing a one-way ticket from New York City through Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and finally Bali, Indonesia: Emirates A380 to Dubai, a three-day stopover, then on to Kuala Lumpur via Emirates. It cost roughly $500. After three days in Kuala Lumpur, I took AirAsia to Bali for approximately $30. Then a week later I took JetStar to Sydney via Darwin for about $250.
A friend of mine has a vacation home on the remote southwestern coast of Bali where I stayed for a week for some rest and relaxation. I had a great time, but the “mosies,” or mosquitoes, were a bit of a problem. We only had “all natural” forms of mosquito repellent. Needless to say, we were eaten alive throughout the day.
When we returned to Australia, my travel companion and I both came down with one heck of a fever, unrelieved by Tylenol. Within a day we both broke out into full body rashes. I knew this combination wasn’t good. My mate was off to the hospital for confirmatory testing. Yup, Dengue fever.
Within two weeks we were back to normal, definitely thankful it wasn’t more serious. But Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that does, in fact, kill hundreds every year.
I learned a valuable lesson from my Dengue experience. Like the Boy Scout motto says: Be Prepared! Who would’ve thought that after leaving New York City in freezing, 25-degree weather, within two weeks I’d be bedridden with a tropical and preventable disease? All we needed was some real mosquito repellent.
The World Health Organization provides very helpful information for us travel junkies. I’d recommend checking out their website before you finish packing your bags so you know what sort of health issues you may run into.
And Dear Old Dad chimes in: “When going to less developed countries, we always check with a travel nurse for the necessary inoculations. They can tell you what you need for the locations you’ll be visiting.”