Author: Visa-Adviser

Traveling to a different country exposes us to a new culture, landscape, and environment,  but it can also exposes us to different diseases not commonly found in our native country.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC), which is tasked with fighting diseases that the U.S. public faces at home and abroad, maintains a global list of outbreaks and disease risks for every country in the world.  For those living in the U.S., the CDC recommends each adult get their routine vaccines, which include Tdap vaccines, HPV vaccines, a Td booster shot every ten years, and the seasonal flu (influenza) shot every year. Abroad, we will highlight some major outbreaks for which a traveler should be aware based on their region of travel.

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) is an acute viral infection of the respiratory system, with the first known case traced to Jordan in 2012.  It has been discovered in other parts of the world, with an outbreak in South Korea in 2015, originating from those who have traveled to the Arabian Peninsula.  Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The incubation period ranges from two to fourteen days.  It is spread through close contact with those infected with the virus, such as living with or caring for them. MERS has nearly a 35% fatality rate in those infected.

The CDC identifies the following countries as areas with MERS outbreak risks: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Yemen.

Zika is a virus spread by mosquitoes that, if infected during pregnancy, causes underdeveloped brains or brain damage in the embryos of the women infected. First discovered infecting monkeys in Uganda in 1947, it was not until 1952 that the virus was discovered in humans in Uganda and Tanzania. Since the discovery, many outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Americas, Asia, and Oceania, with the latest outbreak in Brazil in 2015. Cases of infants born with microcephaly and other congenital malformations have been linked to the Zika virus. The virus appears in tropic regions throughout the world, and is spread through mosquito bites or sex.  While some reported mild flu symptoms, many infected do not show any symptoms at all.

Currently, the CDC identifies the following countries as high risk for Zika infections, in alphabetical order:Angola, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Dutch Caribbean, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Montserrat, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname , Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Uganda, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Yellow Fever is a viral infection found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and South America. Its name is derived from a symptom in severe cases that causes yellowing of the eyes and skin.  Yellow Fever is spread through infected mosquitoes and causes fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, sensitivity to light, backache, and headaches, with an incubation period from 3 to 6 days.  Yellow fever has been known to cause bleeding through the nose, mouth, and eyes, and even death in severe cases. 

Currently, the CDC identifies the following countries as being highly prone for yellow fever where a vaccination is recommended or required: Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, andVenezuela.