News

Healthy Cane

Spring break brings relaxation and partying, but may also bring things that go bump in the night – specifically parasites.

Many parts of Central and South America and Africa are home to these unpleasant little critters that can infect and live inside the body. Now before canceling any trips, here are some tips to avoid those unwanted spring break guests.

Amoebas are at the forefront of parasites to be aware of, and they can be in any water – tap water, shower water, drinking water – excluding the ocean. The best way to avoid them is to drink bottled water and ask whether ice is made with bottled or tap water.

Symptoms of amoeba infestation include bloody diarrhea, watery diarrhea, constipation then diarrhea, and pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Longer infection periods can lead to liver abscesses or an infection in the central nervous system, resulting in seizures, headaches, fever, dementia, coma and eventually death. So, the point is: Tap water in foreign countries is bad.

Another parasite to avoid is the leishmania, which is caused by sand fly bites – a bug common to Central and South America. To avoid the sand fly, do not wear dark colors (it attracts the flies), take vitamin B supplements and use bug repellant. If bitten, victims may suffer a crusty, but painless lesion that grows and scars over a period of months or years, leaving a large pockmark.

Traveling a little farther to Africa, visitors can contract Chagas’ disease, aka African sleeping disease, which comes from the Trypanosoma cruzi – the kissing bug. The kissing bug actually looks similar to a stink bug and infects victims by pooping on them. Bed nets and screen doors can provide barriers to this bug, but once infected victims will experience lymph node and eye swelling, weakening of the heart’s walls and constipation. Eye swelling can occur within a week of infection, but the other symptoms may develop over years.

Although amoebas and leishmania may seem uncommon, everyone’s heard of the next disease carrying critter: mosquitoes. Mosquitoes carry malaria, which causes coughing, fatigue, shaking, headaches, joint pain and high fever among other symptoms. However, there are ways to avoid this “mal air,” such as bug spray and anti-malarial pills, said Dr. Abra Ager, research association professor in the departments of immunology and microbiology. The pills, usually called Doxycyclin, which also treats acne, can be prescribed by any doctor a couple days before traveling.

So to recap: Avoid tap water, bring bug spray and don’t be afraid to splurge on health and safety precautions.

Ashleyann Gosselin may be contacted at a.gosselin@umiami.edu.

March 6, 2008

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

University of Miami fans no doubt are loving the Hurricanes’ two newest tight ends. What they’re pro ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday: ▪ Though UM wasn’t called for a single penalty against ...

Two of the best athletes and a freshman quarterback on the No. 21 University of Miami football team ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday: ▪ The Miami Hurricanes are honoring their 1983 nation ...

With Jaquan Johnson still sidelined with a hamstring strain he suffered on Saturday against Toledo, ...

The trailer for a documentary exploring the relationships between UM students and Holocaust survivor ...

New technology could help workplaces and schools identify violent intruders before they enter the do ...

A University of Miami professor has created software to detect fraud in standardized tests. ...

UM President Julio Frenk outlined the strategies of the Roadmap to Our New Century, part of his Stat ...

Students attending Monday night's State of the U address by UM President Julio Frenk offer thei ...

The 1983 national champions will be back on campus to celebrate the 35thanniversary of Miami's ...

The University of Miami volleyball program begins ACC play on Friday night against Wake Forest at 7 ...

Head coach Katie Meier announced Wednesday the ninth annual Miami Women's Basketball Fantasy Ca ...

The yearly Miami Fall Invite will take place Friday through Sunday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center, ...

Through three games, Miami is No. 1 in the country in tackles for loss and the entire Hurricanes def ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.