Getting Sick after Travel
Sometimes, travelers come home with more than souvenirs. Some travel-related illnesses may not cause symptoms until after you get home. Fortunately, most after-travel illnesses are mild and not a concern, such as a head cold or an upset stomach.
If you are not feeling well after you come home, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, find a clinic here.
If you have been in a country with malaria and develop a fever within a month after you come home, see a doctor immediately. Most fevers are caused by less serious illnesses. But because malaria is a medical emergency, your doctor must first rule it out. A fever could be malaria even if you took antimalarial medicine, because the medicine is not 100% effective. Most malaria develops within 30 days, but rare cases can lie dormant for a year or longer. So always tell your doctor about any travel you have done, even if it was months ago.
Most cases of diarrhea go away by themselves in a few days, but see your doctor if you have diarrhea that lasts for 2 weeks or more. Persistent diarrhea can make you lose nutrients and is often caused by a parasitic infection that might need to be treated with special drugs.
Skin problems (rashes, boils, fungal infections, bug bites) are among the most common illnesses reported by people who have returned from international travel. Most skin problems are not serious, but they may be a sign of a serious illness, especially if you also have a fever.
At the Doctor
Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. This information will help your doctor consider infections that are rare or not found in the United States. Make sure to include all relevant details:
- What you did on your trip.
- How long you were gone.
- Where you stayed (fancy hotel, private home, tent).
- What you ate and drank while you were there.
- Whether you were bitten by bugs or animals.
- Whether you swam in fresh water.
- Whether you received health care abroad.
- Any other possible exposures (sex, tattoos, piercings).
- Page created: April 21, 2013
- Page last updated: December 13, 2018
- Page last reviewed: December 13, 2018
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