Why seeing your doctor before you travel may keep you alive

Travelling is already a costly luxury that you would have no doubt spent months, maybe even years saving for. But the one thing that may set you back while on your holiday is getting seriously sick. Here are a number of diseases you could contract while on holiday and why seeing your doctor before you travel may keep you alive.


Malaria is potentially fatal and the disease may reoccur for years. Particularly common in places such as the sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia, malaria occurs from the bite of a female mosquito the anopheles. Symptoms may include high fever, aches in your muscles and fatigue. These symptoms may not occur until a year after being bitten.

“It was awful. I lost 2.5 stone (15.9kg) because I couldn’t eat, and the headaches were like the worst migraines you can imagine. I was constantly sweating and hallucinating and I thought I was going to die.”

- Alex Cheatle, on his ordeal of not taking anti-malaria medicine and contracting the illness. Source: NHS UK.

Dengue Fever

Dengue, which is found in tropical and subtropical destination, is a disease that can also be fatal. Contracted by the bite of the aedes mosquito, you may experience flu-like symptoms for up to 1-2 weeks.

“It started off as a mild headache and then fever. I also had a rash of tiny red spots over my shoulders, chest and back. The fever was awful but the worst thing was the headache. It was the worst headache I’d ever had, like torture. Painkillers didn’t have any effect and it was worse when I tried to sleep. So I got no sleep at all, which was horrible.”

- Hugh Wilson and his story on contracting Dengue in Thailand. Source: NHS UK.


This occurs when you are bitten by an animal. Most bites, which are reportedly by dogs, can create symptoms such as, fever, fatigue, chills, and headaches, lack of appetite, anxiety, vomiting and irritability. Those are just the initial symptoms; there are also a range of advanced symptoms.

“I got back to London on a Sunday and saw my GP the next day. I was surprised when she sent me to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases. The doctors there decided that as a precaution I should have a course of seven anti-rabies injections spread over the following weeks.”

- Brierlie Godfrey on her story about being bitten by a wild monkey. Source: NHS UK.


Hepatitis A, & B are two potential strains of this virus. Hepatitis A, which can be contracted from contaminated food or water, can last up to 3 months or longer. Whilst hepatitis  B, which is can be caused by medical procedures, blood to blood contact or unsafe sex, will last for the rest of your life. The other strain of hepatitis is C which is almost the same at hepatitis B.

“My life is ruined,” she said. I’ve never been in so much pain in my life.”

Lisa Mapley and her current condition after contracting hepatitis B while on holiday. Source: Mirror UK.

How to prevent these diseases

So how do you avoid contracting these diseases? It only takes a couple of steps.

Step 1 – Before you travel, visit your doctor at least 2 months in advance ask about a rabies vaccination or a course of anti malaria tablets

Step 2 - Be wary of your destination and be aware of mosquitos. Use mosquito repellant, avoid touching any wild animals and take medication with you.

Step 3 – Make sure you get travel insurance. If you do get sick, it will be costly. By having travel insurance you are covering yourself from a mountain of debt!