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Know Your Risks When Traveling To Third World Countries

Traveling to third world countries is not like traveling to highly industrialized countries such as our own. You must take precautions when traveling to third world countries or you could end up victimized, injured, sick, and any or all of these things could be serious enough to take your life. It doesn’t matter what your reasoning is to travel to a third world country, you are at risk while there, and if you know what your risks are, you’ll be better prepared so that you can take precautions against all of the risks.

Health Risks

Traveling to third world countries can bring new opportunity and excitement your way, but it also brings the potential for serious illness. When you travel to other areas you’ll find that there are new germs, bacteria, microorganisms and it’s likely that your body will never welcome these things. Your best defense is being up to date with vaccinations and vaccinating against any known problems in the area as well as taking any relevant medications to avoid contracting illnesses such as malaria. Knowing what to expect when you get there as well as how to avoid contaminating yourself is important. There are three major ways in which you can become contaminated with potentially serious illnesses and these are food, water, and skin.


· Food


Flies are often the carriers of disease and illness, so if you see an over abundance of flies around food that you are eating or being served, you might want to politely reject those items. Remember that flies could be present wherever you buy food from stores, dining out, or purchasing food from street vendors.


If you are served food that has been cooked over a fire, you will probably be fine as long as the food is served very hot, so that any bacteria will be killed off. Eating over a fire is even safer if you are able to eat off your own spoon and out of your own bowl. Dishes are a great place for bacteria to grow if they are not cleaned well and attract flies and other disease carrying insects.


When you are eating fruits and vegetables, peel all of them. One vegetable that you probably want to avoid at all costs is lettuce as it’s often a source of illness for many third world travelers. If you are buying meat it’s usually best to stick with slab cuts or chunks instead of ground meat as it’s not been handled and run through possibly contaminated machinery. Fish should only be eaten in clean, coastal areas. When you eat fish right on the coast you have a better chance of getting fresh food. Shrimp should be avoided at all costs, especially in a shrimp cocktail where it’s likely that the shrimp have been sitting out where flies can get to them.


Eggs can be a touchy item as well, and you should only eat eggs that have been very well cooked. In some regions they have a serious problem with trans-ovarian transmission of Salmonella from chicken to egg. Inquire about such problems before you travel, and if you are in doubt, avoid eating eggs. Dairy products are often an item that you should use caution with as well as there can be transmission of bovine TB in milk and even ice cream. Use your common sense and check into diary contamination before traveling.

· Water


When you are visiting a third world country it is typically recommended that you boil all of your water. When water reaches a strong rolling boil, all pathogens will be killed, and it’s safe for drinking, bathing, cleaning, or other uses. Beverages that are safe to drink without boiling are carbonated beverages, sealed bottled water, juices and soft drinks that are unopened, beer, hot tea and hot tea and coffee. It’s important to remember that only heat kills dangerous pathogens, ice actually preserves the organisms. If in doubt, do not drink something.


· Skin


Skin can either work for you or against you in preventing illness or infection. If you get a cut or scrape on the skin, this introduces a great opportunity for bacteria to invade your body. When you go to clean a cut make sure you clean it in boiled or treated water to avoid directly infecting the open skin. Soft tissue infections are often caused by contaminated water and they can be very serious.


Take care in shaving when you are traveling to third world countries, as a small little cut in the skin can cause infection. The problem with shaving is that it often causes microscopic tears in the skin, which are a great entry source for bacteria and illness. Most women give up shaving their underarms or legs while traveling to third world countries, and most men shave with extreme caution or give up the clean shaven look while there.


Personal Safety Risks

Another area of extreme risk when traveling to third world countries is that of terrorist type people or organizations, or just bad people who look to victimize tourists who they assume are very affluent. Do not dress in expensive looking clothing, leave your jewelry at home, and do not flash large sums of cash anywhere, at any time. When you do make purchases, take care in concealing any cash you have so you do not become a target.


If you feel as though you are being followed, do not stop. Continue on to a safe place such as a police station or public area where you are less likely to be victimized. If you are victimized report the situation to authorities as soon as possible. Your personal safety is at risk when you travel to third world countries because, just like everywhere else, there are good and bad people. Also, when you travel to third world countries you are likely dealing with very poor, desperate people who are willing to do just about anything for food, clothing, and shelter.


If you take precautions before traveling to third world countries, you’ll likely have no issues health or safety wise. Be aware, be prepared, and learn about the area you are going to before you get there. The risks are very real in third world countries, but you can work to avoid them.

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