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The Lab

This category provides information about specific diseases, parasites and viruses that a traveler may encounter on their journey. In addition to information about prevention and treatment, you can find information on travel vaccinations and immunizations.

sleeping snickness

One of the world's more sinister diseases, sleeping sickness, scientifically known as African trypanosomiasis, begins with a single bite from an infected tsetse fly. If left untreated, the two forms of the parasite - T. b. gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense are almost always fatal. From a traveler's perspective, there is not much to worry [...]


Named after the area around the Hantan River in South Korea, where an outbreak was recorded in the 1970's, hantaviruses find themselves in that fun category of viruses that are untreatable and potentially fatal. There is also no current commercially available vaccine. The good news is that hantaviruses are rarely contracted by humans. We will [...]

Cellulitis infection

Both authors of this site have had cases of cellulitis, so we can get particularly intimate with this subject. Let's get down to it. Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection. It usually starts innocently enough with a little redness and perhaps some swelling. If left untreated, things can go south quickly. This is what happened [...]

spider bites

Who doesn't have an outsize fear of spiders? The things look they were specifically designed to terrify us. Eight legs, eight eyes, fangs. What else? Oh yeah, some of them are venomous. We are afraid of spiders despite the fact that we have countless encounters with them. We've also been bitten by spiders, and in [...]


Is MSG really bad for you?

are maggi cubes bad for you because of MSG?

If you've walked past any Chinese restaurant in the industrialized world, there is a good chance you have seen a sign that says something along the lines of, "We don't cook with MSG." What's the big deal? Is MSG actually bad for you? It must be bad if restaurants are making signs about it, right? [...]

fire coral

Here's the deal, fire coral is not even coral. It's worse than that. Fire coral is actually more closely related to jellyfish than coral. The good news is that you won't find it cruising around the ocean like a jellyfish. Fire coral is fixed to one spot, and with any luck, you won't go anywhere [...]


Do I have a tapeworm?

tapeworm infection

There are times when I feel like all I am writing about is parasitic worms. Today, I find myself talking about one that we have somehow not addressed yet: the tapeworm. Contrary to Mango Worm and Guinea Worm, most people have at least heard of tapeworms. They've heard of them, but they don't really know [...]

is my heartburn from doxycycline permanent?

I previously wrote about why I stopped taking doxycycline as a malaria prophylactic. That was back in 2011. I had just finished a trip through West Africa at the end of 2010, and I had returned home to the states before setting off on the road again. Originally, I thought I was having a problem [...]

roundworm infection

Let's be honest, you have to be unlucky to find yourself with a roundworm infestation. But, it's possible, so we are going to talk about it. Roundworms are a type of nematode, which are considered to be the most numerous form of multicellular organism on earth. They are parasites of a variety of different organisms, [...]


The candiru (also known as the Toothpick Fish or the Vampire Fish) has long been reputed to be capable of swimming up a person's urethra during urination in affected waters, causing untold physical harm and psychological trauma. We mentioned in our 7 terrifying small organisms piece that the candiru was known to have gone up [...]

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