Posted on February 19, 2018

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

Dr. Abu Khattab, who is a Consultant specializing in Communicable Diseases and Travel Medicine at HMC, says although most travelers who become sick will experience only mild illness, it is important for residents to be vigilant and to monitor their health. He says 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 traveled outside the country and is experiencing persistent symptoms, specifically fever (high temperature) or diarrhea, should immediately consult their doctor or visit the Travel Clinic at HMC’s Communicable Diseases Center, or another health center that provides travel medicine services.

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“Persistent fever can be a symptom of serious disease. Any resident who has traveled abroad and is experiencing symptoms of illness or is generally feeling unwell should seek medical advice, particularly if they have not taken precautions before traveling to countries that have reported cases of Malaria, Dengue, West Nile Virus, and Zika,” said Dr. Abu Khattab. “Other symptoms that should not be ignored include abdominal pain, cough or shortness of breath, and loss of appetite. It is important for travelers to be educated about their 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,” added Dr. Abu Khattab.

An initial diagnosis for most travel-related illnesses can be quickly made if the patient is able to provide specific details regarding the destination traveled to and the potential risk factors he or she has been exposed to. Many gastrointestinal illnesses, for example, are more common in certain South-East Asian countries and the Indian subcontinent, while Malaria is prevalent in Africa, India, South-East 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 says it is important not to ignore persistent symptoms of illness and when seeking medical attention to inform the treating doctor of any recent travel. To book an appointment at HMC’s Travel Clinic, call 4025 4003.