Touch wood I was never Ill - vaccination as good as it gets

This is not going to be some missonary article about not getting vaccinated. If you are into that wrong blog and sorry. Around 1992 I went with a friend, let’s call him Roland to Kenya. The Tropical Institute in Switzerland gave us both Malaria prevention pills and we swallowed them religously. At the time the Somali Civil War was in full swing and we were visiting a friend of us who was together with us in the Swiss Guard. He was working as an Administrator for the ICRC (International Committee for the Red Cross) and was responsible to maintain the air and land logistics between Kenya and Somalia sending humantarian assistance.

We were there just for holidays but got a chance to learn the daily ICRC drill. The whole ICRC expat staff was living outside from Mombasa and we were sleeping there as well. Back in the days Mefloquin was the goto drug for Malarya prophylaxis. It has some severe side effects and in our twenties we experienced severe and uncontrolled vomiting. This got us into some silly situations. We were invited by the staff to have a dinner in a very nice restaurant and as soon as the food was dished out we both had to run to the toilets. Another occassion we were felling nausea and unannounced the landlord of the house was collecting the rent. He was wearing a kaftan and as much as I can remember was a funny character but as soon as he showed up again we had to run to the toilets. I never go infected by Malaria but the prophylaxis was pretty painful.

You can now imagine that for travelling in Latin America you need one or the other vaccination. Actually you almost need any sort of vaccination. The list of potential illnesses goes on and on and probably I just scratched the surface of all possible illness iterations that are out there:

  • Chicken Pox

  • Malaria

  • Typhus

  • Zika

  • Dengue

  • Mountain Sickness

  • Rabies

  • Hebatitis

I will run down the list and explain you how you know that you got infected and what the spanish terminology is in case you have to get treated locally.

Chicken Pox - Skin: blister, scab, ulcers, or red spots Whole body: fatigue, fever, or loss of appetite Also common: headache, itching, sore throat, or swollen lymph nodes Spanish word: Varicela

Malaria - Pain areas: in the abdomen or muscles Whole body: chills, fatigue, fever, night sweats, shivering, or sweating Gastrointestinal: diarrhoea, nausea, or vomiting Also common: fast heart rate, headache, mental confusion, or pallor Spanish word: Malaria

Typhus - Abdominal pain, backache, dull red rash that begins on the middle of the body and spreads, fever, can be extremely high, 105°F to 106°F (40.6°C to 41.1°C), that may last up to 2 weeks, hacking, dry cough, headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.Typhus has a long and deadly history, especially epidemic typhusTyphus is caused by bacteria. Spanish word: Tifus

Zika - Pain areas: in the back of the eyes, joints, or muscles Whole body: fatigue, fever, chills, loss of appetite, or sweating Also common: eye redness, headache, skin rash, or vomiting Spanish word: Zika

Dengue - Pain areas: in the abdomen, back, back of the eyes, bones, joints, or muscles Whole body: chills, fatigue, fever, or loss of appetite Gastrointestinal: nausea or vomiting Skin: rashes or red spots Also common: bleeding, easy bruising, headache, or sore throat Spanish word: Dengue

Mountain Sickness - Whole body: inability to exercise, fatigue, loss of appetite, or low oxygen in the body Sleep: sleepiness or sleeping difficulty Gastrointestinal: nausea or vomiting Respiratory: rapid breathing or shortness of breath Also common: fast heart rate, headache, insufficient urine production, or respiratory distress syndrome Spanish word: Mal de alturas

Rabies - Pain areas: in the muscles Whole body: dizziness, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, or malaise Psychological: delirium, fear, or hallucination Gastrointestinal: nausea or vomiting Muscular: muscle spasms or paralysis with weak muscles Sensory: pins and needles or sensitivity to light Behavioural: aggression or irritability Also common: anxiety, brain death, coma, difficulty swallowing, dilated pupil, drooling, excess salivation, headache, mental confusion, seizures, or stiff neck Spanish word: Hidrofobia

Hepatitis - Pain areas: in the abdomen Pain types: can be mild Whole body: fatigue, loss of appetite, or malaise Gastrointestinal: fluid in the abdomen or nausea Skin: web of swollen blood vessels in the skin or yellow skin and eyes Also common: dark urine or itching

Now comes the fun part and this is just completing the picture. There are some illnesses that you cannot vaccinated. If you got until here now the ugly stuff comes.

Chagas - Requires a medical diagnosis The disease can be mild, causing swelling and fever, or it can be long lasting. Left untreated, it can cause congestive heart failure. Pain areas: in the abdomen or muscles Whole body: fever or body ache Also common: headache, painless swelling around eye, palpitations, or skin rash

Roundworm - These are one of the most common kinds of parasitic roundworms. These parasites enter your body if you drink very unsafe water which is coming from the infected soil. They move from your lungs to the intestine and then get out of your butt. Most commonly found in Latin America.

Parasitic fish - Prepare yourself for the worst. This parasitic swimming fish, also known as vampire fish finds the way to your wounds and drinks blood there . There have been cases when this naughty parasitic fish found its ways to male penis and women vaginas, so be careful if you pee near rivers. Especially in South America.

Bot-fly larva The good thing is there's only one kind of Bot Fly Larva that harms humans, and the bad news is that they do nasty things to you. The fly puts larva on your skin which slowly gets underneath and then burst outs when grows. It happens in South America .

Leishmania - Some people have no symptoms. For others, symptoms may include fever, weight loss and swelling of the spleen or liver.

Andreas Schaffner