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Planning A Caribbean Trip? Right here Are Some Infections To Think about Defending Your self In opposition to

Most websites providing journey security recommendation concentrate on petty theft, watching that your drinks aren’t spiked, and being cautious after darkish. Little is written about decreasing your infectious threat past “Do not drink the water or ice.”

Being an infectious illness physician, I needed to share my considerations about touring to the Caribbean now and the way you may need a protected(r) journey.

I am in Puerto Rico now, my first main journey since Covid started. It has been good for my soul, and whereas I am seemingly taking extra precautions than many would—an occupational hazard largely from seeing problems of issues—I’ve felt safer right here than most locations at house.


Frankly, my flight on United Airways was the scariest a part of the journey. I am certain they don’t seem to be distinctive in having awful air flow. I watched my Aranet 4 CO2 monitor readings all through the flight. They rose to 2900 throughout boarding and have been by no means lower than ~1700 through the flight.

Dr. Jeff Gilchrist had a useful thread about CO2 levels, and supplied a “spreadsheet shared air calculator. When the CO2 ranges are at 975 ppm, you possibly can see that each breath folks soak up that room incorporates 1.5% of the collective breath of others. This may increasingly not sound like a lot, besides the everyday quantity of air inhaled per day means you might be inhaling 6 liters each hour of different folks’s breath. If air flow was horrible and CO2 ranges have been 3152 ppm, that will be 30 liters each hour of different folks’s breath.”

We wore N-100 masks and didn’t take away them for a second, aside from TSA’s identification test, from the time we boarded a shuttle bus at Dulles till we have been in our rental automotive. It was uncomfortable, however fortunately, we didn’t get Covid. Hardly anybody was masked on our flight. The flight attendant falsely thought that vaccines protected him solely from an infection. Then once more, he thought Puerto Rico was a international nation.

Concerning Covid, Puerto Rico is an efficient vacation spot. Per, in Puerto Rico, “(95.0%) have obtained at the least one dose, 2,767,570 (86.7%) have obtained at the least two doses or a single Johnson & Johnson dose, and 1,756,532 (55.0%) have obtained a booster shot.” In my house county, 64% have obtained at the least one dose, 57% two doses, and solely 31% a booster.

Much more folks masks in shops in Puerto Rico, too—I would estimate maybe a 3rd do, whereas masks in my city are a rarity. One may simply discover an outside restaurant right here, making consuming out a lot safer.

Meals and water

Whereas I am informed that the water right here meets the identical requirements as on the mainland, I used to be involved due to the current hurricanes and injury to the infrastructure. We’ve got used a guide water air purifier/filter we introduced and acquired bottled water, one thing I’m usually detest to do.

Different normal recommendation for touring the place hygiene could also be an issue (as from the current hurricanes) is avoiding contemporary fruit and veggies except you possibly can peel them. Surprisingly, bananas have been unavailable in San Juan for greater than per week attributable to Hurricane Fiona destroying the crop. We stayed in resorts or leases with kitchen services, which made life significantly simpler and extra nice. We made our ice and acquired citrus that might be peeled and frozen berries.

Diarrheal illnesses are the commonest travel-related sickness. They’re acquired from consuming contaminated meals or water. Pepto-Bismol prophylaxis is likely to be one thing to think about, or taking it on the first signal of diarrhea.

Usually, if you can be touring to international locations within the “World South,” being updated on vaccinations is sensible. This would come with Hepatitis A, a extremely infectious virus transmitted by water or meals contaminated with stool.

A tetanus booster is an inexpensive precaution and getting the TDap, which additionally protects in opposition to pertussis (whooping cough), may assist curtail its unfold.

Odd bugs from water

Try to be conscious of some zoonoses, or infections transmitted from animals, if planning a trip now.

One is leptospirosis. It is a bacterial an infection acquired from water contaminated by animal pee, particularly from rodents. There have been 108 suspected, possible, or confirmed circumstances in Puerto Rico simply since September of this yr, when Fiona hit the island. There have been 14 deaths throughout this identical interval. Leptospirosis has been related to white water rafting, kayaking, or different water sports activities and with wading or swimming in contaminated water. That is why, as tempting as this swimming gap was, I did not leap in.

Many leptospirosis infections are delicate and more likely to be missed, so the numbers of infections are seemingly a lot larger. Signs are non-specific flu-like sickness and conjunctivitis (purple eyes). Extra extreme circumstances embody liver involvement with jaundice, meningitis, and loss of life. Therapy is with doxycycline.

Whereas schistosomiasis is commonest in Africa, this parasite can also be discovered within the Caribbean islands and Brazil. It’s transmitted in freshwater by the larvae penetrating the pores and skin whereas persons are swimming, wading, or bathing. Acutely, folks can develop a rash and respiratory signs. The an infection may be quiet and never seem for years, presenting later with blood in stool or urine. Being hardly ever seen within the US, diagnosing and treating it might seemingly be troublesome. It is so essential that you simply inform your physician about journey and strange exposures—that is typically critically essential in making a analysis!

Hookworm will also be acquired by strolling barefoot, so please put on water sandals or the like.

Watch out to scrub cuts sustained in salt water totally to assist stop vibrio vulnificus infections. The pores and skin could develop bloody blisters—a serious warning signal—and shock can develop.

Mosquito-borne infections

Malaria is, fortunately, solely endemic in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Chikungunya, a viral an infection transmitted by mosquitoes is present in Latin America however not on the islands.

Sadly, there are nonetheless occasional Zika circumstances on the islands, notably in Puerto Rico. [Addendum: 12/21/22 5 pm: There is conflicting information presented re the risk of Zika. CDC here says there are no cases since 2019. But here: “Women living in Puerto Rico are at risk of Zika virus exposure due to local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus.” Finally, “the Puerto Rico Department of Health Weekly Arboviral Diseases report indicates the Zika virus continues to infect people in 2022. The Report published on Feb. 14, 2022, shows (1) new ‘probable’ Zika cases confirmed in the San Juan, Puerto Rico vicinity. These Zika cases are in addition to the (101) probable cases reported during 2021, with (10) near the city of San Juan.” A map is provided.]

Dengue is the most important menace from mosquito bites on the island. This arboviral an infection could have a fever in addition to headache and physique aches, resulting in its nickname, breakbone fever. Normally, preliminary infections should not as critical as repeated infections. These may be life-threatening with shock and bleeding. The perfect safety is utilizing a great mosquito repellent with Picaridin or Deet.

Whereas dengue is a major threat in Puerto Rico (525 regionally transmitted circumstances this yr), a bigger variety of travel-related circumstances have been reported from Florida (699)!

different zebras

An indication at El Yunque, the island’s rainforest, warns of rabies among the many mongoose. I’d be cautious of the various stray canines and cats as effectively. In a single research, 11% of cats examined in Puerto Rico have been optimistic for rabies.

It might be greatest to think about these important infections earlier than touring to the Caribbean. Even whereas taking precautions, there may be a lot to see and do, making certain you’ve a fantastic—and protected—trip.

Submit has been up to date 12/21/22


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