Travel Diseases: Women Get Diarrhea, Men Malaria

Women and men traveling while suffering different diseases

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When women and men travel, their risk of becoming ill varies widely. While female travelers are more likely to suffer from diarrhea and colds, men are more susceptible to infectious diseases such as malaria and hepatitis. This is shown in a study of almost 60, 000 patients from travel clinics worldwide, which has now been published in the journal "Clinical Infectious Diseases". It reaffirms that gender is an important factor influencing human health.

Gender determines: it also determines for which diseases women and men are vulnerable. As a result, women travel more frequently to diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, upper respiratory tract infections, mouth and tooth discomfort, and medication intolerance. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to be victims of viral hepatitis, non-infectious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, acute altitude sickness and frostbite. But they also suffer more frequently from fever, infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria, and sexually transmitted infections.

This is now shown by a systematic study carried out by Patricia Schlagenhauf from the Center for Travel Medicine of the University of Zurich with her team. They analyzed data from 58, 908 patients who visited one of 44 GeoSentinel clinics between 1997 and 2007, a global network of travel sickness clinics.

Men: more enticing scents

In their study, researchers also came up with the reasons why men, for example, are the more attractive hosts for malaria mosquito. One of them is that men produce more of the preferred fragrances: "The mosquitoes look for smells in their search for blood. The preferred fragrances include carbon dioxide, sweat and volatile skin particles, and of these, men produce more than women, "says Schlagenhauf.

She adds: "In addition, insect repellents are water-soluble. So if you sweat quickly-which men do more often than women-you have to apply the insect repellent repeatedly to be reliably protected. "For the thesis that men behave more risk-taking on their travels and are more likely to endanger themselves than women, and therefore on the other hand, the study provides no evidence. display

Prevention needs to be gender specific

"The prevention travel medicine as well as the future travel medicine research should develop gender-specific intervention strategies and take into account the different vulnerability of the sexes for the various diseases", demands Schlagenhauf for the future. Specifically, gender-specific counseling should provide women in particular with self-medication for urinary infections and diarrhea. The leaflets of medicines should contain precise, gender-specific information on tolerability, and dosage information should be adapted to the different needs of the sexes.

For both sexes, the protection against mosquitoes is relevant, but men should receive more detailed information. This also applies to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Male men are more likely to travel spontaneously than women, and safer sex counseling is usually lacking in today's travel medicine practice. Finally, it has to be determined how this information can reach male travelers: the study shows that women are significantly more likely to seek advice than men before starting their travels.

(University of Zurich, 01.03.2010 - NPO)