Tropical and travel diseases

Travel diseases are typically contracted while travelling.


Travel diseases are typically contracted while travelling. Tropical diseases are infectious diseases mainly caused by pathogens found in the tropics and sub-tropics. It is advisable to contact a travel doctor/institute of tropical medicine for information about preventive measures at least 3 months before leaving on a trip. A doctor should be consulted if fever occurs during or after a trip to the tropics.

Topics related to the tropics and travelling


Symptoms are highly diverse and differ according to the infection. Common symptoms include

Causes and treatment


  • Mosquitoes, horseflies, ticks, parasites
  • Bacteria, viruses, fungi
  • Local hygiene practices
    • Treatment of drinking water
    • Waste water disposal
  • Warm and humid climate (rain forest)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Based on suspicion
    • Blood test (identification of antibodies)
    • Urine test and stool analysis
    • Further examinations based on symptoms
Possible therapies
  • Depending on the diagnosed disease

What can I do myself?

  • Contact travel doctor/institute of tropical medicine at least 3 months before leaving on a trip
    • Recommendations/information
    • Vaccination, booster shot, if necessary
    • Prophylactic medication (malaria), if necessary
  • Thorough preparation for trip is advised
    • Follow travel recommendations
    • First-aid kit (information from pharmacy)
    • Take vaccination certificate with you (travel document)
  • Generally, the safer sex rules apply
    • Always use a condom or femidom during sexual intercourse outside a committed partnership
    • Don't get sperm or blood (including menstrual blood) in your mouth, and don’t swallow
  • Insect repellent
    o Mosquito spray (suitable for the tropics)
    o Mosquito net (suitable for the tropics)
    o Clothing suitable for the tropics (light colours, long sleeves, long trousers)
  • Protection from parasites
    o Don’t swim in fresh water (only in chlorinated swimming pools)
    o Never go barefoot (wear bathing shoes)
  • Eating/drinking
    o Boil water or use bottled water (also for cleaning the teeth)
    o No ice cubes, ice cream, drinks served by the glass
    o No take-away menus or unwashed food
    o “Peel it, boil it, cook it or forget it”
  • Behaviour while travelling
    o Wash or sanitise hands regularly
    o No contact with animals
    o Use sunblock

When to see a doctor?

  • Before going on a trip (vaccination, prophylaxis)
  • Always if symptoms occur or infection is suspected
  • Fever during or after a trip to the tropics
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Severe diarrhoea

Further information

Ostschweizer Infostelle für Reisemedizin (Eastern Switzerland Information Centre for Travel Medicine)

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Schweizerisches Tropen- und Public Health-Institut)

FDFA (travel links)

Video: Travel medicine (AMBOSS)


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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.