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Avoid tuberculosis while travelling

Avoid tuberculosis while travelling
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Protect yourself from respiratory illness

It’s World Tuberculosis Day on 24 March 2019, so we’re sharing advice on avoiding exposure to tuberculosis when you travel.

What is tuberculosis?

TB is a bacterial infection. It is one of the top ten causes of death worldwide. Symptoms mainly occur in the lungs and airways, but it can also affect bones, kidneys and the lymphatic system. The symptoms are:

  • a bad cough lasting longer than two weeks
  • coughing up blood and phlegm
  • chest pain
  • tiredness
  • weightloss and lack of appetite
  • chills, fever and night sweats.
What should I do if I think I have TB?

If you get these symptoms you should see a doctor. Fevers that come up after you return from travelling need investigating in any case, and you should see a doctor if you have had a cough for three weeks or more.

TB is very infectious and can spread quickly to friends and loved ones.

If you suspect that you or someone you are caring for has TB or has been exposed to it, get advice from a healthcare professional immediately.

How is tuberculosis treated?

Tuberculosis is treated with antibiotics. The regime may be very long, but you need to complete it. If you do not, you risk getting TB again in a form that is harder to treat.

Am I at risk from TB?

Most Canadians are unlikely to be exposed to tuberculosis (TB). But there are some countries in the world with very high TB rates and if you travel there you are more likely to be exposed to it. The list of countries with a high tuberculosis burden changes over time. The Stop TB Partnership has a reliable list.

Your risk of TB infection increases if you have certain underlying conditions, such as silicosis, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS. Your risk of exposure may increase if you are visiting friends or family in their homes, or if you will spend time in a refugee camp, homeless shelter or a prison. Smokers and heavy drinkers may also be at increased risk of TB infection.

When you come for your travel health appointment at Canadian Travel Clinics, your specialist travel health nurse will be able to tell you more about the risk of TB at your destination. They will take details from you and make a thorough risk assessment. And they can give you further advice on avoidance and help set your mind at rest. Make your appointment at least six weeks before your trip.

How do I avoid TB?

Tuberculosis is spread through coughs and sneezes. The Government of Canada warns that singing and playing wind instruments can spread it, too. To get infected with TB you have to breathe in respiratory droplets given off by an infected person. You can reduce your chances of exposure by avoiding crowded places. Employ good coughing and sneezing etiquette and encourage others around you to do the same.

Where can I get travel vaccinations in Vancouver Downtown?

If you need an appointment at a travel clinic in Vancouver Downtown, turn to Canadian Travel Clinics. It is quick and easy to book online.