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Some of the common diseases in India
Before embarking on your India vacations, you must make yourself familiar with different diseases that are common in Indian climatic conditions. Here is the list of some of the common diseases in India
I CHANCED upon a website attracting tourists to visit India. The site had also one catchy line, which reads like this: "Before embarking on your India vacations, you must make yourself familiar with different diseases that are common in Indian climatic conditions."

Personally, I liked this caution note. I am sure, each country, including the developed ones in the world, would be sensitive to some form of disease or another, which every traveler ought to know before he makes his travel plans. However, coming back to the list of some of the common diseases in India, those are listed below. The idea of writing this article is not only to highlight various diseases common in India but also to make aware Foundations and others about possible steps taken by some for complete eradication of these:


1) Hepatitis A - Brief description: It is an acute but benign form of viral hepatitis caused by RNA virus that does not persist in the blood serum and is usually transmitted by taking food or drink that is contaminated with fecal matter

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all travelers to India.

2) Typhoid - Brief description: It is a serious infection marked by intestinal inflammation and ulceration; caused by Salmonella typhosa ingested with food or water. All travelers are recommended to take Typhoid vaccination.

3) Polio - Brief description: Poliomyelitis (’polio’) is a viral paralytic disease. The causative agent, a virus called poliovirus, enters the body orally, infecting the intestinal lining. It may proceed to the blood stream and into the central nervous system causing paralysis and muscle weakness.

To prevent Polio, one-time booster is recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult.

4) Yellow Fever - Brief description: An acute systemic (bodywide) illness caused by a virus called Flavivirus. In severe case, the viral infection causes high fever, bleeding in the skin and necrosis (death) of cells in the kidney and liver. The damage done to the liver from the virus results in severe jaundice, which yellows the skin

Vaccination for yellow fever is required only for travelers arriving from or transiting through any yellow-fever-infected area like Africa.

5) Japanese Encephalitis - Brief description: Mosquito-borne viral infection, is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. Japanese encephalitis virus cannot be transmitted from person-to-person.

This vaccine is recommended for travelers staying for more than 1 month and traveling to rural areas or travelers engaging in extensive unprotected outdoor activities in rural areas, especially after dusk.

6) Hepatitis B - Brief description: Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic illness.

Travelers who may have intimate contact with local residents should take this vaccination, especially if their period of stay is more than six months.

7) Rabies - Brief description: A viral disease of wild animals that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animals such as dog, cat.

Any traveler who may have direct contact with animals should take this vaccination.

8) Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) - Brief description: Measles, also known as rubeola, is a common disease caused by a virus of the genus Morbillivirus.

If any person born after 1956 has not previously taken this vaccination, he/she should take two doses of the same.

9) Tetanus-Diphtheria : Brief description: Tetanus, also called lockjaw, is a medical condition characterised by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibers. Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness characterised by sore throat, low fever and an adherent membrane (a pseudomembrane) on the tonsils, pharynx and/or nasal cavity. You need to take this vaccination every 10 years.

10) Diarrhea - Brief description: In medicine, diarrhea, also spelt diarrhoea (see spelling differences), causes frequent loose or liquid bowel movements

The most common ailment of travelers is diarrhea. The main cause of the infection is unclean food and water. It is advised to carry an antibiotic and an anti diarrhea drug if significant diarrhea occurs. In case of diarrhea, good amount of fluid intake is required. However, if diarrhea gets severe you should immediately call a doctor.

11) Malaria - Brief description: Malaria is a vector-borne infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites.

Prophylaxis with mefloquine (Lariam), atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone) or doxycycline is recommended throughout India (including Delhi and Bombay), except at places located at high altitudes (2000 m/6561 ft). Long-term travelers coming to India may not have access to medical care all the time; they should bring along medications for emergency self-treatment in case they develop symptoms indicative of malaria, such as fever, headaches, chills and muscle aches. It is important to note that symptoms of malaria sometimes may not appear for months or even years after exposure.

12) Altitude Sickness: Brief description: It also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), altitude illness, or soroche, is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure (usually outdoors at high altitudes).

Altitude sickness may occur to travelers ascending altitudes greater than 2500m. This specifically includes the mountain areas of northern India. Those with a history of heart disease, lung disease or sickle cell disease are advised to avoid high altitudes.

The above dozen listed diseases seem to be commonly prevalent. It is encouraging to note that sustained efforts on behalf of the government and other notable agencies are showing positive results in reducing their occurrences. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a worthy name to mention while writing this piece of article. This Foundation has embarked on a great noble service in eradicating Polio completely within a time frame. An extract from an editorial on eradication of Polio is given below for the readers to understand the depth of the problem and the noble service rendered by Bil and Melinda Gates Foundation:

Quote: Microsoft'>Microsoft founder Bill Gates has a track record of achieving even the almost impossible. So when he lends the weight of that reputation to the goal of eradicating polio in India through the support and initiative of his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the billionaire philanthropist must mean business.

We certainly hope so. Ever since 1988, when the World Health Organisation and its partners began their drive to eradicate polio, it has managed to bring down the annual number of cases worldwide by over 99 per cent. The disease is virtually non-existent in most developed nations today and even elsewhere, its occurrence is occasional to extremely rare.

However, there are still a handful of countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria where polio is endemic and unfortunately, India is also one of these. So far this year about 500 cases have already been reported - 90 per cent of these are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. That’s more than a third of all cases in the world. It’s not as if India has not been trying. Its polio programme is one of the biggest health programmes in the world, which according to Union health minister A Ramadoss, accounts for more government funds in the annual budget than any other communicable disease programme and has so far immunised 172 million children."

Let’s all wish that during our life time, the above mentioned diseases are completely wiped out from the country with the help of Foundations like Bill Gates Foundation, pragmatic Health Ministry’s approach, innovative results obtained by untiring Research Medical fraternity and above all with the help and goodwill of leading philanthropists, charitable trusts and institutions including Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts of every caring industry.


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