Dr Mohamed Abu Khattab of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is advising residents experiencing signs of illness after travelling outside the country to seek medical attention, particularly if they’ve travelled to a developing country or a region known for mosquito-borne illnesses such as Malaria, Dengue, West Nile Virus and Zika.

Dr Abu Khattab, a consultant specialising in Communicable Diseases and Travel Medicine at HMC, said that although most travellers who become sick will experience only mild illness, it is important for residents to be vigilant and to monitor their health. He said that while most infections will result in symptoms within two to six weeks of travel, incubation periods vary and some conditions can present months to years after initial infection.

Anyone who has travelled outside the country and is experiencing persistent symptoms, specifically fever (high temperature) or diarrhoea, should immediately consult their doctor or visit the Travel Clinic at the HMC Communicable Diseases Centre. They can also visit another health centre that provides travel medical services.

Persistent fever can be a symptom of serious disease, according to Dr Abu Khattab. Any resident who has travelled abroad and is experiencing symptoms of illness or is generally feeling unwell should seek medical advice, particularly if they have not taken precautions before travelling to countries with reported cases of Malaria, Dengue, West Nile Virus, and Zika.

Other symptoms that should not be ignored include abdominal pain, cough or shortness of breath, and loss of appetite. It is important for travellers to learn about the risk of contracting diseases and medical conditions such as Typhoid Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and intestinal parasites. These conditions can be serious and require medical intervention.’

An initial diagnosis for most travel-related illnesses can be quickly made if the patient is able to provide specific details regarding the destination travelled to and the potential risk factors he or she has been exposed to. Many gastro-intestinal illnesses, for example, are more common in certain Southeast Asian countries and the Indian subcontinent, while Malaria is prevalent in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and some South American and Caribbean countries. Meningitis is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and Yellow Fever is most prevalent in subtropical areas of South America and Africa.

Dr Abu Khattab said that it’s important not to ignore persistent symptoms of illness and to inform the treating doctor of any recent travel when seeking medical attention.

To book an appointment at the HMC Travel Clinic, call 4025 4003. You can also visit the HMC website for more information.