Vacation Health Hazards

Summer is a great time to plan a family vacation or just a weekend getaway. Regardless of your destination, you should be aware of the hidden health hazards that can exist at your holiday hot spot.

Camping

One of the best ways to spend summer vacation is to go camping: sleeping out under the stars with just the sounds of owls and crickets to lull you to sleep; of course until you are rudely awakened by the shrill buzzing of a mosquito.

Nobody likes being bitten by a mosquito, and the fact that some of them can carry the West Nile Virus, makes them even more dangerous. However, simply spraying a buy spray onto your body may not do the trick in repelling mosquitoes.

Since wearing longs sleeved shirts and long pants may not always be appropriate camping and hiking wear, consider using a non-DEET buy spray. Studies have proven that DEET can interfere with the brain’s neurotransmitters. Unless you have been for a swim since first applying the bug spray, one application is usually enough to last you all day.

Going to the Beach

Besides, camping, going to the beach is another favorite vacation destination amongst holidaymakers. However, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that beachgoers have a higher rate of diarrhea and gastrointestinal diseases, than non-beachgoers, as a result of being buried in the beach sand or just playing in the sand making sand castles etc. In fact, the beaches of Hawaii, California, Florida and the Great Lakes have all tested positive for high levels of E. coli as well as evidence of fecal contamination.

Travelling

Most public transportation, including airplanes, is riddled with a myriad of disgusting germs. In fact, the influenza virus can continue to live and, therefore, be able to infect an unsuspecting person for up to 17 days, according to a study conducted by the Swiss. The most obvious, germ-infected, objects are door handles, seats, restrooms and food trays.

Be sure to keep a hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it often.

Theme Parks

Theme parks are the one place where even adults can act like kids and not be disrespected for it! What should be treated with disrespect however, are all the different surfaces that contain unhealthy germs. Most amusement park rides are the ideal breeding ground for one of the most relentless germs: E.coli.

Again, carrying a hand sanitizer and using it before every ride will be your best bet and reducing your chances of becoming infected.

Swimming Pools

Every year, specifically during the hot summer months, there has been an outbreak of illnesses, including diarrhea, which has increased drastically over the past 2 decades, according to research that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these outbreaks are caused by two distinct parasites, cryptosporidium and giardia. Roughly 54% of 22,000 public swimming pools that were inspected for a study were found to be in violation of at least one public health code.

Try not to swallow the pool water when swimming. Wear goggles, ear and nose plugs too and remember to never swim if you have an open cut or wound as it may become infected.

Visiting the Zoo

Every child loves visiting the zoo. But besides big scary animals, Zoo’s can also house tiny, scary germs! Be aware of certain zoonotic disease that can be passed from animals to humans. Such diseases include E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and streptococcus. These can be transmitted via touching a guard rail or even by petting an animal at the Zoo.

Again, carry a hand sanitizer gel or spray and always wash your hands after petting any animal or touching any part of the animal’s enclosure.

Hotel Bugs

When you plan on spending the night in a four star hotel, you usually don’t plan on spending the night with bed bugs! Bed bugs are becoming increasingly popular as the number one complaint of hotel guests.

If you are afraid that your hotel room may be infested with bed bugs, pull down the cover and sheets from the bed and carefully inspect the mattress seams. Pay close attention to the corners and look for blood spots which are indicative of bed bugs.

The National Pest Management Association also suggests that you take a peek behind the headboard of the bed as well as closely inspect the sofa and chairs. Bedside table drawers and the wall which the bed is against are also areas in which you may be able to see evidence of bed bugs.

If you do find signs of bed bugs inhabiting your hotel room, immediately tell the hotel manager and find another hotel. Immediately wash your clothing in hot water and vacuum your suitcase.

Photo Credit: smittenkittenorig

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Paulina Nelega, MLT, RH

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