by Work the World

Heading overseas is an amazing opportunity to see the world. But whilst  excitement and adventure await you, there are also plenty of nasty diseases that you need to protect yourself from. The bulk of these are through vaccination before you leave and this top ten will hopefully encourage you to get down to the doctors in plenty of time!


  1. Diphtheria - most UK students will have been had this at school as a child, but check with parents to make sure. The disease is transmitted by respiratory droplets or contaminated food and drink. The bacteria most commonly infects the nose and throat and causes a gray to black, tough, fiber-like covering, which can block the airways. In some cases, diphtheria may first infect the skin, producing skin lesions.

  2. Tick Borne Encephalitis - UK students can get a vaccine, US students need to get a shot when they arrive in country. Main tick hosts are small rodents and although you may want to avoid rodents on your trip, it's not worth the risk. Tick Borne Encephalitis is a viral infectious disease involving the central nervous system and most often manifests as meningitis, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis.

  3. Hepatitis A & B -Hep A - transmitted through contaminated food and water , Hep B through bodily fluids like blood, semen or saliva. Initial features are of nonspecific flu-like symptoms, malaise, muscle and joint aches, fever, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and headache. A small proportion of people with acute hepatitis progress to acute liver failure.

  4. Japanese Encephalitis - spread by mosquitos. In a small number of cases (about 1 in 200 infected people) the illness can be serious. Infection may start with fever, tiredness, headache, vomiting, and sometimes confusion and agitation. This may progress to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and this can cause permanent brain damage and is fatal in some cases.

  5. Meningococcal Meningitis - transmitted by respiratory droplets. Infection results in swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

  6. Rabies- contracted through a bite from an infected animal. For a human rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.

  7. Tetanus - caused by bacteria living in soil, so if anything dirty pierces your skin you could be at risk. Tetanus bacteria produce a toxin that affects your brain and nervous system. This toxin causes your muscles to repeatedly contract and go into spasm.

  8. Typhoid - shed in faeces and spread through contaminated food and water, a risk prevalent in restaurants etc if waiters do not wash their hands. Typhoid ranges from being a mild illness to causing death. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, severe headache, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhoea.

  9. Typhus - transmitted by lice and fleas. Typhus is any of several similar diseases caused by Rickettsiae. The name comes from the Greek typhos meaning smoky or hazy, describing the state of mind of those affected. Along with the fuzziness, abdominal pain, backache, rash, fever, headaches and joint pain are common.

  10. Yellow Fever - mosquito borne. In mild cases the symptoms are similar to influenza, but serious cases develop a high temperature and may have a series of after effects, such as internal bleeding, kidney failure and meningitis.


At Work the World each student has a personal log in to Interhealth, available through the My Trip page, where you can get full information on the recommended vaccinations for the country and area you are travelling to.

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