Cross-Country Diseases

Some of the most common illnesses you’ll come across while traveling abroad.

You’ve had a great trip. Saw all the historic landmarks, learned all about the native culture, chatted with some natives, and are ready to return to your home country. As you pack your bags, you suddenly realize you have more to bring back to your home country than you took on the trip. And one of the things you’re bringing back is an unwanted traveling companion – a cross-country disease.

If you’re planning on traveling overseas, read on to learn about the most common diseases you put yourself at risk for contracting and how to avoid them.

Yellow Fever

In the event you’re traveling to an underdeveloped country, you will likely be forced by the government in your home country to undergo immunization against yellow fever. Causing symptoms ranging from fever and chills to liver failure and shock, yellow fever often takes a turn for the worse and is fatal for the sufferer. Therefore, it is obvious that yellow fever is one cross-country disease you want to do your best to avoid. Especially as your country may not allow you to return home until you are completely cured.

Food Poisoning

As other countries may not be as particular about how well meats or other food items are cooked, the food you eat may be overflowing with bacteria that can make you ill. Typically, food poisoning is little more than a nuisance that lasts goes away fairly fast, but it can turn an otherwise wonderful trip into something of a trial. To avoid food poisoning, do your best to make sure all your foods are cooked properly and that there is not cross-contamination occurring between foods. Also, consider bypassing the local water and drink bottled water to avoid water-borne illnesses.


You don’t have to have unprotected sex or abuse drugs to get the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). All you have to do is wind up ill in a country that doesn’t have the resources to use brand new or properly sterilized medical equipment. While you may be getting a shot for something as minor as a rash, the needle being used could have been used by an individual with AIDS, HIV, or other life-threatening diseases. If this is the case, sticking the needle in your body makes it possible for you to contract the same disease. Granted, winding up with AIDS this way is becoming very rare, but it remains a possibility.


More commonly contracted by travelers than AIDS but with some of the same stigmas, hepatitis can easily be prevented with a series of vaccination shots. Just be sure to begin your regimen well before your trip, as it takes a few visits to your physician to get complete protection. You probably know that hepatitis B can be passed through sexual intercourse and other contact with contaminated blood or bodily fluids, but did you know that hepatitis A can make its way into your body through food and drink? Therefore, it is important to get fully vaccinated before traveling, as you may accidentally come in contact with contaminated food or drink.


Getting the flu may not be as frightening as hepatitis or typhoid fever, and it probably isn’t your primary concern while traveling to distant lands, but the flu could easily keep you from enjoying your time in a new country. Any time you will be spending time in an airplane, bus, or other method of public transportation, protect yourself against the flu by staying up-to-date on your flu shot. Winding up with the flu may not put you in imminent danger, but it could ruin the trip you’ve been planning for so long.

Healthy Places

Want to travel to a wild and exotic land, but want to be surrounded by healthy people? A few countries you can enjoy in the company of healthy locals include the following:

  • China
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • Sweden

Leave a Reply