I’m walking 640km across Jordan, and the days are counting down remarkably fast. The point of the trek is not only to challenge myself but to raise funds for @MSF_UK as I’ve written about extensively, start at number one and work on through to ten. If you believe in MSF’s work around the world or simply like my blog please head over to my just giving page and donate a few Pounds, Euro, Shillings or dollars to the cause.
Because I travel so much and because I am medically orientated you might think I would be familiar or obsessive with all the bugs which I could catch on my travels. Well the opposite is true. I suck at taking care of my health and have a lot of stories because of it; but I’ll keep them for another time.
Hiking 640km is fairly serious and I can’t afford to get sick, so I did decide to look a little deeper this time:
Jordan has a surprisingly small list of travel medical issues, the CDC website recommends the usual HepA/B vaccines along with Rabies and typhoid. Other diseases without vaccinations include bird flu and a couple of MERS cases so don’t go hanging out in a chicken farm or with sick camels. I do like a straight forward country.
My only worry (it’s not really a worry, but eugh gross) is of sandfly bites transmitting Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which is something out of a zombie horror movie as if refugees and people trapped by fighting didn’t have enough to be terrified of medieval flesh eating diseases certainly shouldn’t feature on the list. In neighboring Syria the failed health care system under Isis, combined with increase in fly breeding areas, lack of fly control and movement of people has also brought this rare disease to Jordan, but really the numbers are super low – 200 per year in Jordan. Similar to mosquitoes and Malaria, sand flies can pass the parasites to human hosts via saliva transmitted when they bite, so the best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten.
Sand flies are generally evil blood suckers which are most active at dusk and dawn. which means you can find a great camp during the day which turns into vampire city come dusk. Hiding inside, covering yourself in DEET, hanging out a meter of so into water or running away from them seems to be effective to a point. Luckily Jordan only supports populations of sand flies for around half the distance of the walk… maybe. The desert areas away from water preclude the flies survival.
Another issues will be water borne infections, travel guides for pretty much any country will advise stick to bottled water to be on the safe side. When hiking across some of the remote stretches this wont be an option so I will be looking at in more detail about water bugs and how to avoid them soon when talking about the awesome SteriPEN.
Food bugs also are every present, everybody travelling to a new place has had food which simply doesn’t agree with them. We might not have tolerance to different bugs, or the food just upsets our stomachs. I’m hoping my stomach has been toughened up by years of eating roadside food and not worrying about the water my veggies were washed in.