West Nile fever was first registered in the United States in 1999. Over the next five years, the virus spread to all U.S. except Hawaii and Alaska. In 2007, Italy saw its first cases of the chikungunya virus, normally found in sub-Saharan Africa and spread by mosquitoes.
In 2010, dengue fever cases were reported in southern France and Croatia. Three years later, Greek health authorities raised concerns after malaria was detected in four locations. The Zika virus has recently gained widespread attention due to its rapid spread across Latin America.
According to experts from the Center for Travel Medicine (CRM), tropical diseases are now more common in temperate zones due to climate change. Southern European latitudes are becoming increasingly like the tropics, with milder winters and more rainfall, which creates ideal conditions for disease-carrying insects.
Due to climate change, previously uncommon diseases, such as meningococci, appear in unexpected regions.
Not Only Europe and North America Affected
Malaria affects not only European or North American targets but also other regions. Malaria cases are declining in East Africa, and Zanzibar, located near Tanzania's coast, has been considered malaria-free for years.
However, for the first time, malaria cases are occurring on Kilimanjaro slopes, even at an altitude of 1500 meters, because the Anopheles mosquito can still survive in warm weather. Beach holidaymakers on Zanzibar's beaches do not need malaria prophylaxis today, but mountaineers must take precautions.
Additionally, rising temperatures impact ocean life, and dangerous jellyfish such as the Portuguese galley are spreading as far as southwestern Europe.
Traveling to certain destinations can pose new challenges for the tourism industry and holidaymakers. Additional vaccinations may be necessary, and the first-aid kit may need to be reassembled. Medical care is inadequate in many places, particularly in Asia and Africa, and counterfeit medicines are a significant hazard.
Another issue is the excessive allocation of high doses of antibiotics by local doctors, which has led to the emergence of resistant germs, according to epidemiologist Robert Steffen of the University of Zurich. Antibiotics are not recommended in typical traveler's diarrhea cases, so knowing what to do in such a situation is essential.
Consultation Recommended before Long-distance Travel
It is highly recommended to consult a travel physician before long-distance travel. This will help coordinate vaccinations and ensure the first-aid kit suits the holiday destination. Depending on the destination, the costs for this consultation could be several hundred euros per person, which may not be covered by health insurance.
However, it is still advisable to seek consultation with a travel physician and make necessary provisions, as it is in the best interest of health insurance companies to have their members return healthy from vacation. Health insurance companies must treat holiday-related illnesses regardless of where they occur.