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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.

developing immunity to foreign bacteria

If you are a short-term traveler, this question may not be relevant, but for long-term travelers or expats, knowing whether immunity from foreign bacteria can be "earned" is an important topic. We have written about traveler's diarrhea, probiotics, and various parasitic infections on this site, but we have not talked about whether exposure, particularly long-term [...]

information on MRSA for travelers

Look at that little cluster of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. A couple of microscopic purple pom poms. No big deal. Right? No. The bacteria known as MRSA is responsible for a large number of serious infections, cases of which are potentially fatal. Staph bacteria are quite common. The bacteria can be found on [...]


The Risk of post-Trip Malaria

the risk of post-trip malaria

Have you traveled to an area where malaria is endemic? Do you think you are in the clear once you get home? Wrong. Malaria symptoms can emerge up to 25 days after initial infection. In other words, you could find yourself coming down with malaria a few weeks removed from your vacation. There are several [...]

avian bird flu and the traveler

We have now seen several incarnations of Avian Bird Flu. Back in 1997, H5N1 got the avian influenza party started, but there are now multiple strains and it's likely that more will develop as industrialized farming of poultry will continue and humans will remain a part of that process. This post will discuss the threat [...]

mers coronavirus

UPDATE (5/14/14): The latest from the WHO has the MERS virus rising in urgency, but it still falls short of a global health emergency. There is more information in this article. UPDATE (5/3/14): We are still seeing cases of MERS. In fact, an American traveler was recently diagnosed after returning home. It's important to note [...]

what are the chances of a global pandemic

With talk of yet another incarnation of Avian Bird Flu, there is much speculation as to whether we will soon see a pandemic. In this post, we will take a look at possible pandemic scenarios in an attempt to understand how likely they are to occur. A pandemic refers to a disease outbreak that effects [...]

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wormwood tea to treat malaria

Not long ago, we wrote in our malaria myths and facts article that malaria cannot be treated or prevented with herbal remedies. Now we have articles surfacing in the press that suggest wormwood tea may be an effective weapon against malaria. So what is the deal? Are herbal remedies legit? In this post, we will [...]


One of the most common fears among travelers to developing world countries is that they have (or will acquire) an intestinal parasite. This is in part because parasites can have vague symptoms, or none at all. In this post, we will talk about some of the more common parasites, their symptoms, and how to go [...]

drug resistant malaria

All life evolves. Unfortunately, microbial life can evolve at a much faster rate than we can. We depend on antibiotic drugs like penicillin to treat infections and antiprotozoal drugs like metronidazole to deal with things like amoebic dysentery. The organisms that cause infections and illness can outpace the drugs that target them. In this case, [...]


Tetanus and the Traveler

tetanus information for travelers

I used to think of tetanus as the disease of rusty nails and locked jaws. Turns out, I didn't know crap about the disease. While it's true that early stages of infection with tetanus bacteria can cause spasms in the jaw muscles, the whole rusty nail thing is a bit overdone. But we'll get to [...]

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