Tropical destinations aren't all idyllic stretches of white sand and blue waters. The warm weather and frequent rain contribute to rampant diseases that kill many people each year. How much do you know about deadly tropical diseases?
Mosquitoes are a very common carrier of tropical diseases, and Dengue fever is no exception. The little flying critters infect perhaps half a billion people each year.
Many millions are infected each year, but only about 20,000 die from the fever. Symptoms typically set in a few days after infection.
Many people develop a skin rash in conjunction with Dengue fever. The rash is often accompanied by a high fever.
World War II caused major changes to many tropical environments and featured high-speed travel between previously isolated areas. These factors helped Dengue spread farther and faster than before.
In a minority of infected people, the virus causes a yellowish hue to appear in the skin. It's a creepy and disheartening symptom for the afflicted person.
Almost all modern-day cases of yellow fever occur in tropical areas of Africa. It's spread, of course, by infected mosquitoes.
Yellow fever features an initial stage with mild symptoms, and then people tend to get better. But about 15 percent of patients move on to a secondary stage in which the truly scary symptoms begin.
The toxic phase is indeed very toxic. Only about half of those who suffer this secondary stage will survive the ordeal.
Ebola is caused by a number of different Ebola viruses. It was first identified in 1976.
It depends on the specific Ebola virus; some are deadlier than others. But on average, if you're infected you have a coin flip's chance of survival.
Most current research points to bats as hosts who carry Ebola viruses. Because the disease occurs sporadically, scientists still aren't sure how it is spread from bats to humans.
You can be a carrier even if you survive Ebola. Active traces of the virus have been found in the semen (and in women, breast milk) up to three months after the initial infection subsides. That means the disease can still be spread.
In 2014, the world's health organizations freaked out en masse when an Ebola outbreak ravaged Guinea. Tens of thousands of people were infected and more than 11,000 died.
Cholera is frequently spread through the drinking of contaminated water. It's a bacterial infection that can have profound effects on the patient.
Horrible, gut-wrenching diarrhea is the trademark sign that you're infected with cholera. The symptoms may begin just hours after infection.
Humans are the only creatures susceptible to the ravages of cholera. Those in areas stricken by natural disaster or poverty (or both) are most likely to suffer the bacteria's wrath.
The bacterium surges through the small intestine, wreaking havoc on digestive processes. It's the reason cholera is known for such terrible diarrhea.
Mefloquine is sometimes used to prevent and treat malarial infections. It has potentially terrible side effects, ranging from hallucinations to depression to suicidal thoughts.
If there's one good thing about surviving yellow fever, it's that you'll never have to deal with it again. Survivors are immune.
Many millions of people are infected each year, and about 5 percent or so die. That percentage is significantly higher in areas where medical treatment is more primitive.
Some patients die in less than a week. Other languish in misery for two weeks. Survivors often report physical pain that lingers long after the infection is gone.
Many researchers around the world are working on a vaccine. But at present, there's no truly effective vaccine against this deadly disease.
The worst cases of malaria can kill infected people in a matter of hours. Those who receive treatment and survive can typically expect a full recovery.
During the days of the Roman empire, tropical outposts often suffered from the scourge of "Roman fever" or malaria. Some historians think the disease may have contributed to the fall of the empire.
With Ebola, even corpses are infectious. Bodies must be buried or cremated immediately to prevent further spread of the disease.
A bug, called the "kissing bug," spreads Chagas disease, mostly in tropical areas. The bugs pass along a protozoan that winds up causing major health problems in some humans.
Remember that cute kissing bug you saw three decades ago? No? Well, you now have a potentially deadly disease because of it. Chagas can hide in the body for 30 years before causing real harm.
Some lucky people never develop any symptoms from Chagas. Others suffer unseen damage to their hearts … and then they suddenly drop dead.
Many Americans, particularly those in warmer regions, are unknowingly infected with Chagas disease. Some learn of the infection when they go to donate blood.
Kissing bugs are alarmingly common in the Southern areas of the United States. In spite of that, Chagas is an often ignored disease that many doctors don't know how to identify.