Traveling with Kids? Useful Tips to Avoid Common Parasite Borne Illnesses

 

Everyone would agree vacations are fun. And when we return home,  most of us are excited about bringing back souvenirs that remind us of the good times. But sometimes, we end up bringing back unwanted ones! From head lice to  Lyme disease; here are our tips how to avoid common parasites borne illnesses when traveling with your kids.

Tapeworm

In the US, tapeworm infections are far less of an issue because of strict health and food safety laws. However,  if you are traveling to underdeveloped countries or rural settings, here is what you should know. This parasitic flatworm lives in the intestine of animals feeding off its host.

The most common way to get infected is by ingesting the larvae or eggs in raw or undercooked meat, mostly pork. So, to prevent infections, make sure that your family washes their hands properly before eating and that you avoid consuming raw food.

Autism Travel Tip:
Carry a travel-sized bottle of Purell and make sure your kids use it!

Foot fungus

Also known as Athlete’s foot, this annoying microorganism scientific name is  Tinea Pedis. It is a skin fungus commonly found in public swimming areas, locker rooms, showers that never get entirely sterilized, even when cleaned with chemicals. People infected have symptoms of continued itching and flaking skin. Many times those infected can get swelling, cracking and bleeding between their toes.

The best way to avoid getting foot fungus is to wear shower sandals to the pool or in a locker room.
Furthermore,  make sure you dry your feet thoroughly after using public areas and keep your socks and shoes clean and dry.

Autism Travel Tip:
Get your kids to wear some kind of footwear when walking around the pool. For kids won’t wear flip-flops crocs can be an alternative.

Male head louse. Photo: Gilles San Martin

Photo: Gilles San Martin Smithsonian Magazine

Lice

Even though they are not dangerous and don’t spread disease, lice are minute and annoying parasites that suck blood from the scalp. They breed rapidly, and their bites cause painful itching which can get infected if not treated quickly. Lice are not connected to cleanliness in any way and live on planes, trains and hotel beds. Furthermore, they can spread via hair brushes and other hair accessories in beauty salons and spas.

The best way to prevent getting lice when you are on holiday is to use a lavender or tea-tree oil on your hair as it acts as a natural insect repellant.

Autism Travel Tip:
Try to introduce your kids to the scent of tea oil or lavender ahead of time to see if they like it.

Bedbugs

These tiny creatures are also blood-sucking parasites that do not spread disease but cause pain and annoyance. Bed bugs are usually active at night when their unsuspecting victims are sleeping.They are quite resistant to extermination once they are settled, so the best prevention is to avoid bringing them home in the first place.

The way to prevent getting a bedbug infestation is to check your hotel room thoroughly. You should check
bed linens, mattresses, bed-frames, and couches for evidence of bug activity – namely waste products, shed skin and egg casings.

Autism Travel Tip:
Pack a steroid cream in the case you or your kid gets bitten.

Traveling with Kids? Tips to Avoid 6 Common Parasite Borne Illnesses pin

 

E Coli infection

E-Coli bacteria can cause terrible stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Symptoms can last anywhere from 48-72 hours in most. However, it can lead to complications in very young or older immuno-compromised patients. Usually caused by contaminated food, it is often found in buffet settings where many people handle the food.
The best way to avoid getting infected is to avoid buffets altogether. Furthermore, make sure you wash your hands before touching your food and that the food is cooked thoroughly.

Autism Travel Tip:
Reiterate to your kids how washing hands before touching food is important and carry a bottle of purell for the just in case instances.

ticks on finger

Photo Credit:renegadehealth.com

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans via infected ticks. So, this is why it is also called “Tick Bite Fever.” If untreated, the symptoms like joint pain and extreme fatigue can become debilitating and long-term. Hence, it is imperative to see a doctor quickly if you have any tick bite marks on your body.

The best way to prevent getting bitten by ticks is to spray an insect repellant on your legs, arms, and neck when going on hikes. Moreover,  wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants is highly recommended. This way you can see the ticks that are dark easier.
After hiking, make sure you do an all-over skin-check for yourself to make sure you are free of ticks. Ticks also bite dogs so make sure to check too if they accompany you on the hike.

Autism Travel Tip:
If your kid is sensitive to smells look for an insect repellent that doesn’t have a strong smell. In addition, you can spray the clothes and shoes ahead of time and air them out prior to wearing.

 

As mentioned before none of the above are problems anyone wants to bring home. By learning the symptoms and ways to prevent them we hope that you will not only enjoy your vacation but return home with nothing but wonderful memories.

 

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