Keeping your students safe when you take them traveling is one of your key responsibilities. While you’re sure to give them advice on local customs, give them a contact number in case they get lost and try to keep them from doing anything foolish, have you considered their health?
Malaria is carried by infected mosquitos. If you’re infected, you usually get chills, a fever, vomiting and headaches. If you’re traveling to a country or a region that suffers from malaria, all of your students need to be taking the appropriate drugs. There’s a selection of drugs available, some cheaper than others and some with more side effects, such as nausea. Drugs usually need to be taken in advance of the trip and during the whole time you’re there. These drugs aren’t 100 percent effective, so you should also use strong mosquito repellent and sleep under mosquito nets where possible.
The mosquito is again to blame for spreading yellow fever, a disease that causes fever, nausea and vomiting. Areas of South America and sub-Saharan Africa are at particular risk. Luckily, you can be vaccinated against yellow fever. Many countries require a certificate upon entry to show that you have received the vaccination and are immune. However, you need to get the injection at least 10 days before you travel.
Another mosquito-transferred infection, dengue fever gives sufferers incredible pain in their limbs as well as nausea, a fever and a red rash. Dengue fever is most commonly found in cities and towns within tropical and subtropical regions. There’s currently no vaccine against dengue fever, so the best advice for you and your students is to cover up, wear repellent and sleep under a mosquito net.
STDs and HIV
STDs and HIV are contracted through having unprotected sex. Diseases are more prevalent in certain countries but are a possibility wherever you travel. Hopefully your pupils won’t be engaging in any sexual activity while they’re away. However, it’s worth imposing a curfew and perhaps educating them about the risk posed by STDs and HIV and the fact that symptoms aren’t always visible before you travel.
Typhoid fever is most often found in less developed countries that don’t have access to proper sanitation. It can be caught by drinking infected water but can be prevented with a vaccine. If you’re going to be volunteering within a local community in an affected area, vaccination is essential.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A can include tiredness, joint pain, a fever and vomiting. The infection is passed through the feces of an infected person, so poor hand washing can cause the infection to spread. If you’re traveling to an area affected by Hepatitis A – parts of India, Africa, the Far East, the Middle East and South America – you can get a vaccination prior to travel.
Montezuma’s revenge, Delhi belly – there are a number of names given to traveler’s diarrhea. It’s caused by unfamiliar bacteria in food or drink and can really put a dent in your student travels. While diarrhea can’t always be avoided, it’s best to have drinks without ice, drink bottled water, avoid raw fruit or vegetables that you haven’t prepared yourself and steer clear of street food stalls.
With the right vaccinations and drugs your students will be safe from the majority of common traveling infections. Taking precautions with food and drink, maintaining good hygiene and practising safe sex will protect them from the rest. Be sure to warn your students about potential health dangers while traveling and look after your own health, too.
Sienna Walker is a travel and education blogger as well as a huge fan of self-improvement books and podcasts. Currently supporting Aubiz, Sienna is often found online, sharing her tips with students and young people entering the workforce.