Once , a lovely woman who lived half the year in Belize and half the year in California, came into me with a complaint of a 3 month long “bug bite” site on her upper arm that would not heal.
After a brief time taking this history and a focused exam, she consented to having the area lanced and drained so it could finally heal.
Imagine our surprise when out comes the larvae of a botfly! A souvenir she picked up on her last travels.
This type of “infection” is common and known to occur frequently in animals of South and Central America, and obviously sometimes in humans as well.
Most people, including doctors think mainly of intestinal issues affecting us during travel as this is the most common ailment with travelling (traveler’s diarrhea), but we need to keep in mind the critters that bite as well (like the ticks, flies and mosquitos-including in our own country) that can make us sick.
Since global travel is much more common place and easier now, the exposure to germs and bugs on the other side of the world is more commonplace as well.
What to do:
1. Educate yourself and your physician if needed, on the places you will travel and visit.
Consult with the local travel agencies and also the www.CDC.org travel medicine site (CDC Center’s for Disease Control).
2. Know what regions recommend avoiding tap water and peeling fruits.
3. Use Deet containing insecticide or treated clothes or bed netting to avoid bites from ticks, flies and mosquitos
A little advance preparation and knowledge will be essential in making your travels safe and help to prevent any pesky hitchhikers along the way.