Dubai, UAE: Expatriates feeling unwell after returning to the UAE from holiday on the Indian subcontinent are urged to visit a doctor as soon as possible to prevent the spread of diseases.
While such advice applies to anyone returning to the Emirates after time abroad, it is especially important for those who have been to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal.
Anyone with symptoms such as a fever, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue or jaundice should visit a clinic, said Dr Riyada Edward Toma Oweis, a consultant in family medicine at NMC Royal Hospital, Khalifa City in Abu Dhabi.
“The most infectious diseases are malaria, typhoid fever, hepatitis A and food-borne illnesses,” he said, noting that their prevalence was greater in countries prone to mosquitoes, poor sanitation and untreated water.
UAE residents can be vulnerable to infectious diseases when travelling as they are generally not present in the Emirates.
“In the UAE we live in a cleaner environment with less risk of infections and diseases,” said Dr Paulson Chalissery Joseph, a general medicine specialist at Aster Clinic in Dubai. “This also subjects us to low immunity levels.”
Dr Joseph said the most common waterborne disease was diarrhoea, which is attributable to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.
“As it is monsoon season in countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, the major infections and diseases are waterborne.”
He said vector-borne diseases, those spread through insect bites, were another common ailment that travellers bring back to the UAE.
“Due to climate change and varied temperatures and humidity, the prevalence of vector-borne diseases is high in South Asia. The most common include mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya and dengue fever, parasitic diseases such as leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, and tick-borne diseases.”
Indian engineer E Ahmed returned to Dubai from a trip home suffering from diarrhoea.
The 40-year-old blamed his illness on not taking the right medication before leaving the UAE and fatigue due to a lack of rest while on holiday.
“We usually work until the last hour before departing on the plane and go to the office immediately after landing. We exert our body too much without giving much needed rest.
“Travelling, change of climate, low immunity and fatigue eventually collapse your health as soon as you return home.”
Dr Oweis said awareness about prevention was the best way to prevent falling ill and potentially spreading disease.
“People should take anti-malaria drugs and vaccinations for hepatitis and typhoid fever. They should be careful about the food they eat, water they drink and wash their hands with soap, especially before eating.
“Avoid bug bites by using insect repellent and wearing proper clothes, use anti-septic cream and an insect net while sleeping,” he said.
“Also, avoid contact with animals like monkeys, dogs and birds.”
© The NationalAug 2016