It is not uncommon for us to receive submissions from readers who have been on vacation and have come home to discover that they are infested with some kind of parasite. Naturally, we sympathize with any of our readers who have ever experienced something like this, and thus we wanted to write this article in order to give some basic tips to our readers on how to prevent something like this happening to them.
Before we get into the bulk of the article, we want to stress that if any of our readers do have any health concerns, such as parasitic infections, they should consult a medical professional immediately. Searching online for an infectious disease physician or travel disease doctor in the biggest city near you should yield results on where to go for help.
First of all, avoid eating suspicious foods or eating at certain restaurants. Many parasites infest their hosts through the consumption of the raw meats or fish that their eggs are laid on. If you are at any restaurant and the meat/fish is not cooked to your liking, you have every right to ask for it to be cooked more thoroughly, or to ask for a new dish. Many people will eat under-cooked food solely for the purpose of not seeming rude in asking for a different dish, or for an alteration to be made to their food. However, your health is far more important than seeming rude. You do not want to be stuck with an intestinal parasite because you were too afraid to hurt a waiter’s feelings. Or worse, you could catch a parasite that could potentially travel up to your brain and cause seizures or nerve damage, such as the spirometra tapeworm which we covered in a previous article.
Secondly, another tip, related to the first, is to not visit restaurants that do not have any customers. This has little to do with the amount of customers reflecting the quality of food, and more to do with the extent to which the meat is cooked. The more customers a restaurant has, the more likely they are to be consistently using their pan, and the more likely they are to be keeping it consistently hot. Because of this, whatever meat you order will likely be cooked through thoroughly. On the other hand, at a restaurant with few customers, the pans are likely not to be already hot before one gets there, and will need to be heated up from room temperature to cook the meat. However, oftentimes the meat is then not actually cooked all the way through, especially in third world countries. It is a harsh truth, but it is true nonetheless, though there are naturally exceptions.
Thirdly, certain parasites can be transmitted via contact with the skin, such as certain species of roundworms, nematodes and hookworms, sometimes even through the soles of the feet. It has come up quite often that certain readers have been infected with parasitic worms simply by taking strolls on the beach. Thus, we recommend wearing some kind of protection on one’s feet no matter where one is walking. Even flip flops might make all of the difference! It might also be worth considering wearing bug spray when walking around outside in topical climates. The Loa Loa worm is a parasite which burrows into the skin of its victim after being bitten by a deer-fly. Usually one gets bitten by a fly, swats it away and would be none the wiser if they were suddenly infested with a parasitic worm.
To conclude, these are three tips to not getting infested with worms one can follow when going on vacation. Hopefully, these can be of some help to our readers, who can keep these bits of advice in mind when they go on vacation next!