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Infectious Diseases Specialist Doctor

Infectious Diseases Specialist Doctor

Certain diseases or health problems can be triggered by climate. Countries with tropical climates have warm temperatures, humidity, and heavy rainfall. These climatic factors encourage the breeding of viruses, bacteria, and fungi that can lead to tropical infectious diseases.

Tropical diseases can spread rapidly, either by direct contact from one person to another, or through disease-carrying animals such as mosquitoes and various insects. Some common tropical diseases include dengue hemorrhagic fever, malaria, fungal infections, rubella, chikungunya, and food poisoning.

Apart from being influenced by climatic factors, tropical diseases are also triggered by environmental factors such as unhygienic areas and inadequate sanitation facilities. Slum areas in tropical climates are highly conducive environments for pathogens. On the other hand, tropical infectious diseases can also spread to areas outside of tropical countries. This is due to increased human mobility between countries.

An infectious disease specialist doctor is someone that understands the various symptoms, causes, and ways to deal with tropical infectious diseases.

Tropical infectious diseases do not only affect the locals in a country. Tourists are even more susceptible to tropical infectious diseases due to their lack of immunity. If you return to your home country with an infectious condition, doctors in that country sometimes find it difficult to diagnose the disease as they are rarely found. When the disease is not treated properly, there will be a possibility of widespread infection throughout the country.

Diseases Treated by Tropical Infectious Diseases Specialist Doctors

Tropical-infectious diseases can be transmitted in many ways. In tropical and developing countries, there are several classifications of tropical diseases to watch out for:

  • Tropical-infectious diseases transmitted from food: may occur due to the presence of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and various contaminants in food. The tropical climate makes food ingredients easier to rot and be contaminated. Diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, and paratyphoid are common types of this disease. Eating oysters and shellfish in contaminated waters can also cause poisoning and Hepatitis A.
  • Tropical-infectious diseases transmitted from insects: Several insects can carry pathogens – mosquitoes, mites, and flies. Mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria, zika, yellow fever, filariasis, Japanese Encephalitis B. Endemic typhus and scrub typhus can also be carried by shiga mites and rat fleas.
  • Tropical-infectious diseases transmitted from water: Poor sanitation, contaminated water sources, and lack of awareness for the need to consume clean water, can trigger the diseases. Water contaminated with rat urine may cause leptospirosis, a systemic disease that results in multi-organ failure and even death. Consuming contaminated water is also dangerous as it may lead to Cryptosporidiosis, Giardiasis, amoebiasis.
  • Tropical-infectious diseases transmitted from airborne: may spread rapidly and massively. For example, meningococcal meningitis, which is common in Africa and Saudi Arabia. Another example is tuberculosis.

Additionally, there are other common tropical-infectious diseases such as the following:

  • Dengue hemorrhagic fever, a disease caused by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the dengue virus. The incubation period for this disease lasts about 4-6 days after being bitten and causes several symptoms such as high fever, nausea, vomiting, headaches, decreased appetite, pain (bones, muscles, back of the eyes), bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums) , bruising, as well as a reddish rash.
  • Elephantiasis, a tropical disease which is also known as filariasis. Elephantiasis is caused by mosquito bites that carry filarial parasitic worms and become parasites in the human body that block the flow of lymph. There are also symptoms such as swelling (legs, arms, genital organs), sores, and fever.
  • Malaria, a disease caused by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito that carries parasites. This disease is characterised by symptoms of headache, chills, sweating, fever, nausea, vomiting, pain, and weakness, with an incubation period of 10-15 days after being bitten by a mosquito. If not treated promptly, malaria can cause brain damage.
  • Schistosomiasis, a tropical disease caused by schistosoma parasitic worms in the waters. This disease is characterised by symptoms of fever, cough, a rash and itching, chills, dizziness, indigestion, joints and muscles pain. The condition gets worse if there is discharge of blood in the urine and feces, swelling (stomach, kidneys, or spleen), and paralysis. Apart from schistosomiasis, several other intestinal worms include pinworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms.
  • Yeast infection, includes ringworm rash, tinea versicolor, candidiasis, and nail fungus. This disease can be caused by lack of body hygiene, direct contact with infected people, and weak immune systems.
  • Tuberculosis (TB), a tropical disease caused by the bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis which can affect the lungs, lymph nodes, kidneys, brain, digestive tract, and skin. This disease is very easily transmitted through airborne, especially if someone is coughing or does not practise good hygiene. The symptoms of tuberculosis usually include cold sweat, weakened body, coughing up blood, prolonged cough for more than three weeks, and  weight loss.
  • Leprosy, a tropical disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. This disease causes nerve damage and disability of the skin, eyes and mucosal lining of the nose. This disease is usually characterised by a tingling feeling, red or white patches on the skin, loss of eyelashes, eyebrows and other body parts, painless scars, swollen joints, and pain.

Medical Procedures Performed by Tropical-Infectious Diseases Specialist Doctors

Similar to any doctors in general, tropical-infectious specialist doctors will provide treatment that starts with a medical history trace and a physical examination to evaluate the patient’s condition.

If the physical examination is insufficient, the doctor may advise the patient to undergo additional tests. The doctor will thereafter determine the diagnosis and treatment according to the patient’s condition.

Tropical-infectious diseases specialist doctors can also work with nutritionists, in order to provide adequate nutrition to improve the patient’s endurance. In addition, the patient will be educated and advised on how to maintain personal hygiene and sanitation.

When to See a Tropical-Infectious Diseases Specialist Doctor?

If you start to feel any symptoms of the above mentioned tropical-infectious diseases, you are strongly advised to see a tropical-infectious disease specialist doctor immediately. Malaria, tuberculosis, and dengue hemorrhagic fever must be treated as soon as possible to minimise the impact of the diseases.

Examinations are also required if you have a weak immune system. This is because tropical diseases are highly contagious and will be more susceptible to those who have weak immune systems.

In addition, you need to be examined and get immunisation first before traveling to tropical and developing countries. The same suggestion applies if you have just traveled abroad. You will need to do a comprehensive health screen to make sure you do not carry any infectious diseases.

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