Top Ten Travel Health Myths
We have debunked the most common travel health myths out there so that you can relax and have the best holiday possible, knowing that you’ve got it covered.
If you stay in a luxury resort you won’t get ill
Just because you’ve paid more money for a bed doesn’t mean that the water supply is any different to the hostel down the road. Unless you can be sure the water is safe, never drink from the tap and always avoid ice cubes in your drinks. Similarly, no matter how expensive the hotel, they can’t prevent mosquitoes from buzzing around the premises and if you’re bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito you could fall seriously ill. Wherever you are staying, always take the recommended precautions. Your travel insurance might foot the bill for a hospital stay but not staying safe might ruin your holiday. Or worse.
Anti-malarial pills will prevent you from contracting malaria
Malaria is one of the most common, and most feared, travel-related diseases. Each year there are more than 225 million reported cases of the mosquito-borne disease, killing around 781,000 people. If travelling to malaria hotspots such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South and Central America, it is highly advisable to take anti-malarial drugs. However, these pills do not guarantee immunity to the disease. To further protect yourself, cover up any exposed areas, liberally spray powerful mosquito repellent, and use mosquito nets at night.
If travelling in the dry season you will not get bitten by mosquitoes
Whilst it is true that mosquitoes are more active in the wet season, they don’t all go into hibernation in the dry season – activity might not be as high but you still be at risk of getting bitten in the dry season.
If you don’t think you’ve ever been bitten by a mosquito you don’t need to protect yourself
Mosquitos are not picky, they will bite anyone but it doesn’t always show up. Never get complacent or you could be putting yourself at risk of serious diseases.
Only dogs cause rabies
Dogs may cause the majority of rabies cases but technically any mammal can pass on the disease if they bite you – beware of cats and bats as well as dogs!
Taking aspirin before flying will prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis
Despite common belief, aspirin is of absolutely no help in preventing DVT. It is used to help prevent blood clots in arteries which can cause strokes and heart attacks but has no affect on clots in veins.
If you have lived in a foreign country you will be permanently immune to diseases native to that country
Although living abroad for a number of years will give you some immunity to diseases latent in that area, that immunity fades within 12 months so you will still need to be vaccinated when returning.
Street food will give you food poisoning
The most common cause of stomach upsets when abroad is not that the food is off, dirty or badly cooked, it is merely that the microbes differ from those in ingredients back home – this will be true in five-star restaurants as well as from vendors on the street.
Bedbugs are only found in cheap, dirty hotels
There is currently a worldwide bedbug epidemic and they are everywhere. Bedbugs are hitchhikers – they are carried on clothing and in suitcases and are deposited wherever their host goes. Request white sheets so they can be more easily seen.
I don’t have to tell my insurer about pre-existing medical conditions
If you don’t tell your provider about a pre-existing medical condition when you book insurance, you will not be covered if you need to make a claim related to that condition.