Travelers' Diseases

Travelers' Diseases and health information

Are You a Traveler?

Find and get the correct lab tests for travelers disease, including traveler's diarrhea and various infections that occur within ten days of travel to an area with poor public hygiene. Ulta Lab Tests provides reliable blood work and secure testing, so order today! 

Travelers disease can be a serious condition that often occurs within ten days of travel to an area with poor public hygiene. Travelers' diseases are caused by infectious organisms transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected insect, ingestion of contaminated food or water, contact with an animal host, or direct contact with their bodily fluids. These diseases may also be acquired through sexual transmission. Symptoms vary depending on the type and severity of infection but often include fever, headache, fatigue, rash, and muscle aches. Some travelers' diseases cause relatively mild symptoms that may resolve without treatment.

In some cases, no symptoms develop until after a traveler returns home. At this point, they may grow worse, linger for months or years before resolving themselves, or disappear and reappear in cycles over many years. A few travelers' diseases can cause permanent severe complications without treatment, including organ failure, blindness coma death.

If you want to learn more about traveler disease and lab testing that can help you, click on the title of the article below.

Travelers are at risk for contracting many different diseases while abroad. Our lab tests can help determine if your symptoms are due to an illness or not, even if they belong to one of the many different categories of traveler's diseases. 

We offer infectious disease lab tests designed for travelers and provide accurate results in 24 -48 hours for most tests. We provide lab tests that can screen you for all common travel-related infections so you can identify these potentially dangerous illnesses and seek the appropriate treatment.

Order your infectious disease blood tests from the selection below today and take charge of your health!


Name Matches

Tuberculosis is a communicable disease caused by infection with M. tuberculosis complex. Infection results in either acute disease or Latent TB Infection (LTBI), a non-communicable asymptomatic condition. The main purpose of diagnosing the latent stage is to consider medical treatment for preventing overt disease. Until recently, the tuberculin skin test was the only available method for diagnosing LTBI.

QuantiFERON®-TB gold eliminates false positive skin test due to BCG vaccination and most Non-Tuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) and is an objective, reproducible qualitative test. There are no side effects or adverse reactions due to patient hypersensitivity, and no "booster effect", whereby the first test induces a false positive response on re-testing. There is no need for follow-up patient visits to obtain test results.

The TB blood test has several advantages over a skin test.  Blood testing requires only one visit to the lab while skin testing requires multiple visits to a doctor's office.  Blood testing for Tuberculosis is typically more accurate than a skin test.  Skin testing has a higher likelihood of false positive results, especially if a person has been previously vaccinated for TB. 

 


Dengue Fever Antibodies (IgG, IgM)

Dengue hemorrhagic fever and Dengue shock syndrome are caused by infection of the RNA flavivirus transmitted by a mosquito vector. Paired acute and convalescent specimens that exhibit a significant change in titer are useful to confirm clinical diagnosis of infection.

Reference Range(s)

  • Dengue Fever Antibody (IgG)<0.80
  • Dengue Fever Antibody (IgM)≤1.65

 


Dengue Fever Antibodies (IgG, IgM) and NS1 Antigen Panel

Clinical Significance

NS1 antigen detection can serve as an effective bridge between dengue RNA detection (usually negative by day 5) and dengue IgM detection (may not be positive until day 6) for identifying acute dengue virus infection.

Reference Range(s)

  • NS1 Antigen Index<1.00
  • Dengue Fever Antibody (IgG)<0.80
  • Dengue Fever Antibody (IgM)≤1.65

 


Dengue Fever Antibody (IgG)

Clinical Significance

Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever result from infection by any of four serotypes of dengue viruses. Transmission occurs through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitos. In most patients, Dengue Virus antibodies are detectable after the sixth day following the onset of symptoms. Strong cross-reactivity is seen with other group B arboviruses (flavivirus), including St. Louis encephalitis, Japanese B encephalitis, Rio Bravo, Powassan, and Yellow Fever viruses.

Reference Range(s)

  • <0.80

Dengue Fever Antibody (IgM)

Clinical Significance

Dengue hemorrhagic fever and Dengue shock syndrome are caused by infection of the RNA flavivirus transmitted by a mosquito vector. Paired acute and convalescent specimens that exhibit a significant change in titer are useful to confirm clinical diagnosis of infection.

Reference Range(s)

  • ≤1.65

Dengue Virus NS1 Antigen

Clinical Significance

Dengue NS1 antigen is found in serum during the acute phase of dengue virus infection, typically during days 1-9 after onset of symptoms. NS1 antigen may be positive when RNA and/or IgM detection assays are negative.

NS1 Antigen Index<1.00


Dengue Virus RNA, Qualitative, Real-Time PCR

 

Clinical Significance

PCR is used to diagnose Dengue fever infection during the initial stage of infection, days 1-5 after onset of symptoms. The assay has been designed to detect dengue virus subgroups 1 and 3 (DV1/3 probe), as well as subgroups 2 and 4 (DV2/4 probe).

 

Reference Range(s)

  • Dengue Virus 1 or 3 RNANot detected
  • Dengue Virus 2 or 4 RNANot detected

Measles, also known as Rubeola, causes fever, irritability, respiratory illness, and the characteristic skin rash. Immunization has greatly diminished the incidence of measles. The presence of IgG is consistent with immunity or prior exposure. IgM is consistent with current or recent infection. IgM tests can generate false positive results and low levels of IgM can persist for longer than 12 months.

Description: The Measles Antibody IgG test is used to measure the blood’s serum for measles antibodies, which may be present because of a previous infection or a vaccination.

Also Known As: Rubeola Test, Measles Virus Test, Measles Titer test

Collection Method: Blood draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Measles Antibody IgG test ordered?

An IgG antibody test for measles may be conducted if a health care provider wants to see if a patient is immune to the viruses, either from a past infection or vaccination.

When a person has measles-like signs and symptoms, or has been exposed to someone who has the virus and now has a fever and some symptoms that could be attributable to measles, IgM and IgG antibody testing may be requested.  These tests are usually ordered early in the infection's progress.

Measles symptoms usually appear 7 to 18 days after exposure and include at least one of the following:

  • A common rash that begins on the face and progresses down the body to the trunk and legs
  • Fever that is very high
  • Coughing that is dry
  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A stuffy nose
  • Throat irritation
  • Inside the mouth, there are tiny white dots

When numerous persons have been exposed and show the signs and symptoms indicated above, testing may be required during a suspected or confirmed outbreak.

What does a a Measles Antibody IgG blood test check for?

The viruses that cause measles and mumps belong to the Paramyxoviridae family. They both induce infections that normally go away within a few days, but in rare situations, they might lead to significant problems. Both can be avoided by being vaccinated. Antibodies developed in response to infection may be detected in the blood during measles and mumps testing. In addition, employing culture or a molecular approach such as polymerase chain reaction, the virus or its genetic material can be detected directly in a sample. These techniques can be used to a wide range of samples.

The number of instances of measles and mumps infections in the United States has dropped from several hundred thousand to a few hundred per year. Comprehensive measles and mumps immunization campaigns are to blame for the declines. While vaccines exist for each virus, combination vaccines, such as MMR, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella all at once, are commonly used. In recent years, the majority of new cases in the United States have occurred in rare outbreaks, mostly among persons who have not been vaccinated, particularly those who have gone to places of the world where measles or mumps are more common.

Rubeola, often known as measles, is a highly contagious viral infection spread through respiratory secretions. The virus infects cells in the lungs and back of the throat, causing symptoms such as a fever that is high, red eyes, a dry cough, sensitivity to light, a sore throat, runny nose tiny white spots inside the mouth, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the body after 1 to 2 weeks.

The majority of patients recover in a few weeks, but up to 20% of them experience consequences such as ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, or, in rare cases, encephalitis or blindness. People who are malnourished, deficient in vitamin A, or have weakened immune systems are more likely to be affected. Women who are pregnant and infected with measles are more likely to have a miscarriage or go into labor prematurely.

Vaccination has greatly reduced the number of persons infected with measles in the United States and many other countries of the world, but the World Health Organization (WHO) still considers measles to be a top cause of mortality in children under the age of five. Measles killed roughly 145,700 individuals worldwide in 2013, according to their estimates, the majority of whom were youngsters under the age of five.

The outcome of the immunization campaign In the United States, endemic measles was declared eradicated in 2000. Small outbreaks, however, continue to occur on a yearly basis. The majority of cases occur in people who are either unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown, and most outbreaks are linked to travel to locations where measles outbreaks are happening.

According to the CDC, 911 cases of measles were reported from 63 outbreaks between 2001 and 2011. With almost 600 cases recorded in 2014, the United States experienced the greatest number of measles cases in 20 years. Many were linked to visitors who had visited the Philippines, where there had been an unusually significant outbreak of over 50,000 cases.

The CDC, as well as the medical communities in the United States and around the world, remain worried and watchful. Measles is still endemic in many parts of the world, there is always the possibility of travelers spreading the disease, and small percentages of the population remain unvaccinated.

Lab tests often ordered with a Measles Antibody IgG test:

  • Measles Antibody IgM
  • Mumps Antibody tests
  • Rubella Antibody tests
  • Varicella Zoster Virus Antibody tests
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Conditions where a Measles Antibody IgG test is recommended:

  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Meningitis
  • Travelers’ Diseases
  • Pancreatitis
  • Infertility
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnancy

How does my health care provider use a Measles Antibody IgG test?

Antibody tests for measles can be used to:

  • Confirm if a person is virus-free due to previous infections or vaccinations.
  • Diagnosis of a measles outbreak
  • In order to protect the public's health, epidemics must be detected, monitored, and tracked.

Antibody analysis

Antibody testing can be used to confirm immunity, identify a current infection, or follow outbreaks. Antibodies to the measles viruses are viral-specific proteins produced by the immune system in response to infection with the virus or immunization. IgM and IgG antibodies are the two types of antibodies generated. IgM antibodies are the first to emerge in the blood after exposure or immunization. IgM antibody levels rise over several days to a peak, then gradually decline over the next few weeks. IgG antibodies take a little longer to develop, but once they do, they remain positive for the rest of your life, protecting you from re-infection. By comparing the levels of antibody in two blood samples taken weeks apart, it is sometimes possible to distinguish between an active and past infection.

What do my Measles IgG Antibody test results mean?

When IgM antibodies to measles are present in someone who hasn't been vaccinated recently, it's likely that they have a current measles infection. When both IgM and IgG antibodies are present, or there is a fourfold increase in concentrations between acute and convalescent IgG antibody testing, it is likely that the person is now infected or has recently been infected with measles.

When a person who has been vaccinated and/or is not currently ill possesses measles IgG antibodies, that individual is protected from infection. A person is not deemed immune to the virus if they do not have measles IgG antibodies. This could be due to the fact that the person hasn't been exposed to the virus, the IgG hasn't had enough time to mature, or the person doesn't have a typical antibody response.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


Description: The Measles Antibody IgM test is used to measure the blood’s serum for measles antibodies, which may be present because of an active infection.

Also Known As: Rubeola Test, Measles Virus Test, Measles Infection Test

Collection Method: Blood draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Measles Antibody IgM test ordered?

When a person has measles-like signs and symptoms, or has been exposed to someone who has the virus and now has a fever and some symptoms that could be attributable to measles, IgM and IgG antibody testing may be requested.  These tests are usually ordered early in the infection's progress.

Measles symptoms usually appear 7 to 18 days after exposure and include at least one of the following:

  • A common rash that begins on the face and progresses down the body to the trunk and legs
  • Fever that is very high
  • Coughing that is dry
  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • A stuffy nose
  • Throat irritation
  • Inside the mouth, there are tiny white dots

When numerous persons have been exposed and show the signs and symptoms indicated above, testing may be required during a suspected or confirmed outbreak.

What does a Measles Antibody IgM blood test check for?

The viruses that cause measles and mumps belong to the Paramyxoviridae family. They both induce infections that normally go away within a few days, but in rare situations, they might lead to significant problems. Both can be avoided by being vaccinated. Antibodies developed in response to infection may be detected in the blood during measles and mumps testing. In addition, employing culture or a molecular approach such as polymerase chain reaction, the virus or its genetic material can be detected directly in a sample. These techniques can be used to a wide range of samples.

The number of instances of measles and mumps infections in the United States has dropped from several hundred thousand to a few hundred per year. Comprehensive measles and mumps immunization campaigns are to blame for the declines. While vaccines exist for each virus, combination vaccines, such as MMR, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella all at once, are commonly used. In recent years, the majority of new cases in the United States have occurred in rare outbreaks, mostly among persons who have not been vaccinated, particularly those who have gone to places of the world where measles or mumps are more common.

Rubeola, often known as measles, is a highly contagious viral infection spread through respiratory secretions. The virus infects cells in the lungs and back of the throat, causing symptoms such as a fever that is high, red eyes, a dry cough, sensitivity to light, a sore throat, runny nose tiny white spots inside the mouth, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the body after 1 to 2 weeks.

The majority of patients recover in a few weeks, but up to 20% of them experience consequences such as ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, or, in rare cases, encephalitis or blindness. People who are malnourished, deficient in vitamin A, or have weakened immune systems are more likely to be affected. Women who are pregnant and infected with measles are more likely to have a miscarriage or go into labor prematurely.

Vaccination has greatly reduced the number of persons infected with measles in the United States and many other countries of the world, but the World Health Organization (WHO) still considers measles to be a top cause of mortality in children under the age of five. Measles killed roughly 145,700 individuals worldwide in 2013, according to their estimates, the majority of whom were youngsters under the age of five.

The outcome of the immunization campaign In the United States, endemic measles was declared eradicated in 2000. Small outbreaks, however, continue to occur on a yearly basis. The majority of cases occur in people who are either unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown, and most outbreaks are linked to travel to locations where measles outbreaks are happening.

According to the CDC, 911 cases of measles were reported from 63 outbreaks between 2001 and 2011. With almost 600 cases recorded in 2014, the United States experienced the greatest number of measles cases in 20 years. Many were linked to visitors who had visited the Philippines, where there had been an unusually significant outbreak of over 50,000 cases.

The CDC, as well as the medical communities in the United States and around the world, remain worried and watchful. Measles is still endemic in many parts of the world, there is always the possibility of travelers spreading the disease, and small percentages of the population remain unvaccinated.

Lab tests often ordered with a Measles Antibody IgM test:

  • Measles Antibody IgG
  • Mumps Antibody tests
  • Rubella Antibody tests
  • Varicella Zoster Virus Antibody tests
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Conditions where a Measles Antibody IgM test is recommended:

  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Meningitis
  • Travelers’ Diseases
  • Pancreatitis
  • Infertility
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnancy

How does my health care provider use a Measles Antibody IgM test?

Antibody tests for measles can be used to:

  • Confirm if a person is virus-free due to previous infections or vaccinations.
  • Diagnosis of a measles outbreak
  • In order to protect the public's health, epidemics must be detected, monitored, and tracked.

Antibody analysis

Antibody testing can be used to confirm immunity, identify a current infection, or follow outbreaks. Antibodies to the measles viruses are viral-specific proteins produced by the immune system in response to infection with the virus or immunization. IgM and IgG antibodies are the two types of antibodies generated. IgM antibodies are the first to emerge in the blood after exposure or immunization. IgM antibody levels rise over several days to a peak, then gradually decline over the next few weeks. IgG antibodies take a little longer to develop, but once they do, they remain positive for the rest of your life, protecting you from re-infection. By comparing the levels of antibody in two blood samples taken weeks apart, it is sometimes possible to distinguish between an active and past infection.

What do my Measles Antibody test results mean?

When IgM antibodies to measles are present in someone who hasn't been vaccinated recently, it's likely that they have a current measles infection. When both IgM and IgG antibodies are present, or there is a fourfold increase in concentrations between acute and convalescent IgG antibody testing, it is likely that the person is now infected or has recently been infected with measles.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


MMR (IgG) Panel (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) Titers - Includes Measles Antibody (IgG), Mumps Antibody (IgG), Rubella Immune Status

This panel provides presumptive evidence of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella for purposes of routine vaccination, for students at post-high school educational institutions, and for international travelers.

The MMR (IgG) Panel is the perfect way to ensure that you are protected against measles, mumps, and rubella. This panel provides you with everything you need to know about your immunity to these diseases and will help you make sure that you are up-to-date on your vaccinations. The Measles Antibody (IgG), Mumps Antibody (IgG), and Rubella Immune Status are all included in this thorough panel, so you can rest assured that you are getting a complete picture of your health.

Order the MMR (IgG) Panel today, and be prepared for anything life throws your way.

What is MMR IgG titer?

The MMR (IgG) Panel is a blood test that measures the levels of antibodies to measles, mumps, and rubella in your body. Antibodies are proteins that your immune system produces in reaction to infections. By measuring the levels of these antibodies in the blood, it is possible to assess whether or not an individual is immune to these diseases.

What does the MMR (IgG) Panel include?

This panel includes the Measles Antibody (IgG), Mumps Antibody (IgG), Rubella Immune Status, and Rubella Virus Genotype. The Measles Antibody (IgG) portion of the panel will tell you if you have immunity to measles. The Mumps Antibody (IgG) portion of the panel will tell you if you have immunity to mumps. The Rubella Immune Status portion of the panel will tell you if you are immune to rubella. The Rubella Virus Genotype is used to determine which type of rubella virus you have been infected with.

Why do I need the MMR (IgG) Panel?

The MMR (IgG) Panel is recommended for people who want to ensure that they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. This panel is also recommended for international travelers and for students at post-high school educational institutions.

What is MMR titer positive?

A positive MMR titer means that you have immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. A positive MMR titer is generally considered to be protective for life.

What is MMR titer negative?

A negative MMR titer means that you do not have immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. If you have a negative MMR titer, you should receive the MMR vaccine.

I have a positive MMR titer. Do I still need vaccinations?

Yes, you should still receive vaccinations even if you have a positive MMR titer. This is because the levels of antibodies in your body can decline over time, and you may no longer be protected against these diseases. Vaccinations will help to boost your immunity and help to keep you safe.

I have a negative MMR titer; what does that mean?

A negative MMR titer means that you do not have immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. You should receive the MMR vaccine if you have a negative titer. The MMR vaccine is an efficient and safe method of protection against many diseases.

What are the risks of the MMR (IgG) Panel?

There are no risks associated with this panel. This panel is a blood test that is performed using a small sample of blood.There is no discomfort or pain involved with this test.

How do I prepare for the MMR (IgG) Panel?

There is no preparation necessary for this panel. You can eat and drink normally before and after the test.

When will I get my results?

Your results will be available within 1-2 business days.

If you have any further questions about the MMR (IgG) Panel, please contact us at any time. We are here to help you and to ensure that you are getting the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.

How often do you need MMR titers?

It is generally recommended that you get an MMR titer test every five years or so to make sure that your immunity levels are still high. You may also need to get an MMR titer test more frequently if you are exposed to measles, mumps, or rubella. If you are unsure about how often you should get an MMR titer test, please speak to your doctor or healthcare provider.

 


Mumps is an acute, usually self-limited systemic illness characterized by parotidites, high fever and fatigue. One third of infections are asymptomatic. A live attenuated vaccine is available. The mumps EIA IgG antibody test is sufficiently sensitive to establish immune status of the patient.

** This test is not available for California or Nevada patient testing

Clinical Significance

Most people with Zika virus infection are asymptomatic. Symptomatic individuals typically experience a mild illness characterized by fever, joint pain, rash, or conjunctivitis. Clinical illness is usually self-limited and lasts a week or less. Not all symptomatic patients report all of these clinical findings, and Zika manifestations overlap significantly with those seen in other viral infections. The incubation period is unclear, but likely to be several days. Symptoms generally resolve on their own within a week.

Pregnant women at risk for Zika virus in the U.S. and in endemic areas are of special concern due to the increased incidence of babies with microcephaly in infected mothers.

Infection with Zika during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects in babies as the Zika virus can sometimes be passed from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. Zika virus can also sometimes be spread by a man to his sex partners and be spread before, during and after symptoms are present.

Zika virus RNA may be detected in serum for approximately 4-7 days following onset of symptoms; thus the optimum time to perform serum RNA testing is during the first week after the onset of clinical illness. For patients who are 2-12 weeks post-symptom onset, serologic testing should be considered. Test results should be used in conjunction with clinical signs and symptoms, epidemiological information and relevant travel history to diagnose Zika virus infection.

Zika infection shares epidemiologic and clinical features with Chikungunya, Dengue, and other infections. Molecular and/or serologic testing for Zika infection may be useful to diagnose the etiology of a given (usually travel-related) illness and guide further testing and management as needed.

About the Test
The Zika Virus RNA Qualitative Real-Time RT-PCR test is a Real-Time RT-PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of RNA from Zika virus in human serum specimens collected from individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zika virus clinical criteria (e.g., clinical signs and symptoms associated with Zika virus infection), and/or CDC Zika virus epidemiological criteria (e.g., history of residence in, or travel to a geographic region with active Zika transmission at the time of travel, or other epidemiologic criteria for which Zika virus testing may be indicated). Testing is limited to qualified laboratories designated by Focus Diagnostics, Inc.

Test results are for the identification of Zika viral RNA. Zika viral RNA is generally detectable in serum during the acute phase of infection (approximately 7 days following onset of symptoms, if present). Positive results are indicative of current infection. Laboratories are required to report all positive results to the appropriate public health authorities.

Negative results do not rule out Zika virus infection and should not be used as the sole basis for patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.

The Zika Virus RNA Qualitative Real-Time RT-PCR test is intended for use by trained clinical laboratory personnel qualified by state and federal regulations who have received specific training on the use of the Zika Virus RNA Qualitative Real-Time RT-PCR test. The test is only for use under the Food and Drug Administration's Emergency Use Authorization.

• This test has not been FDA cleared or approved;

• This test has been authorized by FDA under an EUA for use by authorized laboratories;

• This test has been authorized only for the detection of RNA from Zika virus and not for any other viruses or pathogens; and



The term “travelers’ diseases” is an inclusive category for any sort of infection or illness that one might acquire while traveling, particularly when going from a well-developed region into a less-developed one. There are specific health risks associated with any given travel destination. Whenever you plan a trip to a different country or region, take the time to learn about potential health issues related to the places you’ll be visiting.

You may want to meet with your healthcare provider to discuss any or all the following topics: 

  • Any diseases that are known to pose a threat at your destination(s) 
  • The length of time you plan to stay at your destination(s) 
  • The activities you plan on engaging in during your trip 

Most travelers’ diseases can be prevented with proper preparation and planning. Common precautions include: 

  • Taking appropriate precautions in areas with known disease-carrying insects or animals 
  • Verifying the safety of food and water 
  • Avoiding risky behaviors that may result in infections 
  • Getting vaccines and/or taking preventative treatments as recommended 

Various travelers’ diseases are found in every part of the world. Travelers’ diseases can, in some instances, cause permanent health problems. Childhood illnesses are especially troublesome without appropriate vaccinations. There are many nationwide vaccination programs designed to reduce the risk of contracting diseases like measles, mumps, polio, and rubella (German measles). These conditions may be greater threats in nations or regions where high vaccination rates have not been achieved. Without adequate local vaccination, such disease can be endemic or break out into epidemics. Such infections pose a serious threat to travelers who lack the appropriate vaccinations, children who have not completed their immunizations, and people with compromised immune systems. 

What Are the Common Causes of Travelers’ Diseases? 

The travelers’ diseases that are caused by infectious microbes (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) may become problems in many ways. Contact with contaminated food or water, soil, or animal droppings may transmit the microbes. Bites and stings from infected animals and insects can cause infection. Even animal hides may pose a risk. Insects that commonly carry travelers’ diseases include mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and flies. Some travelers’ diseases are water-borne, posing a risk to individuals who swim in contaminated water or walk barefoot. There are also travelers’ diseases that can pass directly from person to person through blood or body fluid contact. 

Signs and Symptoms 

Some travelers’ diseases cause relatively mild symptoms that may resolve without treatment. In some cases, no symptoms may develop until after a traveler returns home, after which they may grow worse, linger, resolve themselves, or disappear and reappear. A few travelers’ diseases can cause serious, permanent complications without treatment, including organ failure, blindness, coma, and even death. Check yourself as thoroughly as possible for the development of new signs and symptoms during and after your trip.

You should speak to a healthcare practitioner if you experience any of the following symptoms: 

  • Fever or flu-like symptoms. If you develop a fever or flu-like symptoms within six months of traveling to a region with malaria, it is especially important to seek medical attention. 
  • Persistent (lasting two weeks or more) diarrhea or recurring diarrhea 
  • Persistent fatigue 
  • Inexplicable weight loss 
  • A yellow coloration on the skin or in the whites of your eyes (may indicate jaundice)  
  • Inexplicable rashes or sores on the skin 

World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations suggest that travelers should get a medical exam if they experience any symptoms within a few weeks of returning home. An exam is particularly important if a traveler has a fever after visiting a region where malaria is present. 

Travelers who have been abroad for more than three months, those that know they were exposed to an infectious disease, and those with chronic medical conditions should all have a medical exam after returning home, whether or not they experience any unusual symptoms. 

Testing for Travelers’ Diseases 

Identifying the cause of travelers’ diseases is very important both to treat the infected individual and to prevent transmission of the specific disease involved. Identifying the disease is also part of documenting the disease’s presence in both the traveler’s home country and the countries they visited. 

The specific tests used to diagnose travelers’ diseases will depend on the signs and symptoms the sufferer displays. Returning travelers who experience symptoms should consult with their regular healthcare provider; their case may be referred to or consulted on by a specialist in infectious and/or tropical diseases. 

Tests – Digestive Tract Symptoms 

Infections that commonly cause symptoms in the digestive tract (such as travelers’ diarrhea) may be tested for with (among others) the tests described below: 

  • Molecular Tests 

These tests seek out foreign genetic material (DNA & RNA) in the digestive tract to diagnose the presence of specific microbes. Molecular testing is growing more common, but it is not available everywhere. 

  • GI Pathogens Panel 

This battery of tests analyzes a stool sample for the presence of multiple disease-causing microbes. A pathogen panel can identify microbes that might be overlooked in less-comprehensive testing. A GI pathogen panel is also useful for identifying co-infections where a patient is infected with more than one microbe. 

  • Stool Culture 

This is a traditional test that is used less often but may still be helpful. It can identify bacterial infections causing diarrhea. 

  • O&P (Ova and Parasite) Stool Test 

This test identifies disease-causing parasites by finding the parasites or their eggs in a stool sample. Samples for an O&P test can be either fresh or preserved. 

There are disease-specific antigen tests available for some digestive parasites. These identify proteins associated with a given strain of the parasite. Examples include Cryptosporidium, Giardia intestinalis (lamblia), and Entamoeba histolytica. 

In cases where diarrhea is caused by a viral infection, identifying the virus responsible can be complicated. Identification is rarely undertaken except in situations where large numbers of people are infected by the same viral strain, such as a norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship. 

Tests for Insect-Born Infections 

  • Malaria 

Malaria is carried by the red blood cells in infected animals and humans. A blood sample can be prepared specifically for examination under a microscope where the responsible parasite can be seen. There is also a rapid antigen assay test that can detect malaria parasites without the need for microscopic examination. 

Testing for specific insect-borne viruses is performed based on where an individual has traveled. Viruses that may be checked for include: 

Tests for Respiratory Illness 

Testing for respiratory infection will be based on symptoms, travel history, and an individual’s vaccination history. Common examples include: 

A basic TB screening test can determine whether you were exposed to the disease. If an infection is suspected, further testing (AFB testing) will be done. 

Several infections are normally prevented by vaccination. If you present the appropriate signs and symptoms, and your immunity is in doubt, your healthcare provider may want to test for: