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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.

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 [...]


I hate sand flies

sandfly bites

Suppose you were Mother Nature, and you wanted to devise a creature that was fundamentally irritating. What would you create? Well, the sandfly would be a good place to start. Known variably as the sand gnat, biting midge, sand flea or no-see-um, sand flies are small enough that they wouldn't seem like a nuisance. What [...]

botfly larva emerging from the skin

What if I told you that there exists a fly - the botfly - that captures mosquitoes, ticks and certain other flies, holds them hostage long enough to attach their eggs to them and then sends them on their way. The mosquito, tick or fly then lands on your arm, bites you and inadvertently deposits [...]

E. Coli bacteria

You probably already know something about E. Coli. You know that it can cause mass outbreaks of food poisoning, and you know that it can cause severe diarrhea. But did you know E. coli bacteria also live harmlessly in your intestines? In fact, certain strains of E. Coli bacteria are vitally important for the function [...]

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