It's in the water!

When you're camping, it's tempting to drink water straight from pristine-looking lakes and streams – but don't do it! Microscopic single-celled parasites can cause illnesses in humans if ingested. Here are 2 common waterborne diseases that could ruin your week:

  • Cryptosporidiosis (crip-toh-spore-id-ee-oh-sis) is caused by Cryptosporidium (crip-toh-spore-id-ee-um). The symptoms include diarrhea, headache, nausea, and stomach cramps. It usually shows up 1 to 12 days after becoming infected, and the symptoms usually last for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Giardiasis (jee-ar-dye-a-sis), also known as "beaver fever," is caused by Giardia (jee-ar-dee-ah). It shares similar symptoms with cryptosporidiosis. Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, stomach cramps, weakness, and weight loss. Vomiting, chills, and headache may also occur. Symptoms first show up 7 to 10 days after becoming infected and can last for as long as 6 weeks.

How to prevent waterborne diseases:

  • Use bottled water only, or boil water at least 5 minutes before using it. Alternatively, you can purify water with iodine tablets or special water filters.
  • Use purified water to brush your teeth, wash dishes, fruits, or vegetables, and make ice cubes.
  • Peel raw fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
  • Wash your hands with bottled or purified water only, and do it carefully several times a day.
  • Don't swallow water when you're swimming – even in a chlorinated swimming pool (chlorine doesn't kill all germs).
  • One easy way to remember how to keep it safe: "Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!"

If you think you have cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis, see your doctor right away. You may need to give stool samples to see if you have the parasite, and then get treated with prescription medications to get rid of it for good.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Medication on vacation

First of all, to make sure you stay healthy when you take a trip, don't leave your medications at home!

Keep these tips in mind for managing your medications on the road:

  • Before your trip, review your dosage schedules with your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you'll be crossing time zones – you may have to take your medications at different times. For example, if you have diabetes and need to use insulin while travelling eastward across more than 3 time zones, you may require less intermediate or long-acting insulin.
  • If you are travelling to another country, visit to see if you need special protection against disease in the country you are visiting.
  • Some medications can make you more sensitive to the sun and heat – check labels for warnings, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. You may need to cover up or use stronger sunscreen.
  • Store medications away from direct sunlight or high heat. A beach bag or your car's trunk or glove compartment aren't good places to keep medications. For example, many insulins can be kept up to 30 days at room temperature, but degrade at higher temperatures.
  • Don't put your medications in checked luggage. Keep them with you and bring enough to last the whole trip; when you go on an outing, carry along a day's supply.
  • You should pack essential medication in 2 different pieces of hand luggage, just in case one becomes lost or stolen. This way you will have backup and not be left without your important medication while abroad.
  • Keep with you a digital or paper list of all the medications you take (include the names, dosages, directions), your doctors' phone numbers, and your health insurance information.
  • To avoid problems with customs, carry a note from your health care provider describing the types of medications you are using, a copy of your prescriptions, and clear labels on all your medications that identify your full name (as on your passport), pharmacy name, and the name and dose of the medication. The same applies should you have to carry needles or pre-loaded syringes.
  • Put together a travel first aid kit containing over-the-counter and prescription medications you may need if you become ill or are injured. Some medications you may want to include are:
    • antihistamines in case you have a mild allergic reaction
    • a painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    • medications for motion sickness and nausea
    • medications for diarrhea
    • anti-infective ear drops for swimmer's ear (bacterial infection in the ear)
    • an antibacterial cream for cuts, insect bites, and burns
    • a course of antibiotics that is prescribed by your doctor

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which specific medications may best suit your needs, depending on your medical history and travel destination.

Travel checklist:

Alcohol wipes

Antibacterial ointment or cream


Anti-diarrhea medications


Bandages and gauze

Hand sanitizer

Insect repellent

Motion/travel sickness (anti-nausea) medications

Pain relievers

Regular medications



All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Motion sickness

Carsickness, airsickness, or seasickness – they're all just different names for the same miserable problem: motion sickness. It can happen when there's a mismatch between what your eyes see and what your inner ear – the body's balance centre – senses when you're in a moving vehicle. The result? The familiar symptoms of nausea, paleness, a cold sweat, and vomiting.

Kids, especially toddlers and preschoolers, are most susceptible to motion sickness. Fortunately, they'll usually outgrow it after the age of 12.

To prevent motion sickness before it starts:

  • Avoid heavy meals up to 2 hours before travelling.
  • Don't try to read when travelling – instead, look out the window at distant objects, or close your eyes.
  • In a car or bus, sit where you can see out the windshield and open a window for fresh air. Better yet, drive the car yourself and you won't feel sick!
  • On a ship, be sure to get a cabin on the inside, near the waterline, where there's less movement. When on deck, look ahead toward the horizon, which is stable.
  • In a plane, ask for a seat next to a bulkhead (wall) over the wings – it'll make turbulence less noticeable.
  • Just in case the sickness can't be avoided, always travel with a leakproof container – resealable food bags are a good bet.
  • If all else fails, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter or prescription medications that can prevent motion sickness.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Tick trouble

Are ticks just a harmless nuisance?

Tick bites can present a temporarily annoying experience in the summertime. However, the additional possibility of catching Lyme disease is one more reason to take action against these bugs. Lyme disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by the bite of ticks of the genus Ixodes, commonly known as deer ticks or black-legged ticks.

These ticks are tiny – about the size of a pinhead when immature – and grow only slightly bigger as adults. They crawl onto a person's skin from grasses and shrubs in wooded areas. The tick digs its mouth into the skin and feeds for 2 or 3 days before dropping off.

Although not necessarily confined to these specific areas, most cases of Lyme disease are reported in the northeastern US (from Massachusetts to Maryland), the north-central states (especially Wisconsin and Minnesota), and the west coast (particularly northern California). The disease is on the rise in the US, with approximately 30,000 cases every year. It's also on the rise in Canada: for example, the number of confirmed human cases jumped from 144 cases in 2009 to 2025 cases in 2017.

Signs of Lyme disease

A characteristic sign of Lyme disease is a skin rash that starts with a small red patch that gradually expands, often clearing in the centre to form a bull's-eye pattern. Other early signs and symptoms include chills, fatigue, fever, headaches, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes .

If left untreated, late-stage symptoms can appear days to months after a tick bite, including dizziness, pain that spreads from one part of the body to another, arthritis, or difficulty thinking or remembering. Rarer, more severe symptoms can also appear such as loss of sensation, drooping of the face, heart problems, swelling of the brain, and spinal cord or eye infections.

Preventing tick bites

To avoid tick bites when hiking or camping in wooded areas:

  • If possible, stay away from tick-infested areas, especially in the spring, summer, and fall months.
  • Stay in the middle of hiking trails and try not to brush against grasses or leaves.
  • Wear light-coloured clothes to make it easy to spot ticks "hitching a ride" on you.
  • Wear closed shoes and long pants with the pant legs tucked into your socks or boots. As an extra precaution, put tape around the area where your pants and socks meet.
  • Wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt for extra protection.
  • Spray your clothes and exposed skin with an insect repellent that contains 30% DEET (also effective at repelling mosquitos, which can carry malaria or West Nile virus), or treat clothes with the insect repellent permethrin, which kills ticks on contact. If using DEET, never spray it directly on your face or broken skin. For children under the age of 12, only DEET products with a maximum of 10% should be applied. Avoid daily use of DEET products for periods of over 1 month with this age group.

If you spend several days outdoors in areas that might contain ticks, inspect yourself daily once you're indoors. Check your skin carefully for ticks, and ask someone to check your scalp for ticks. If a tick has already latched on to you, don't panic. Even if the tick has bitten you, remember that not all ticks carry Lyme disease.

Removing ticks

The best way to remove a tick is with a tick-removing device or a pair of fine-point tweezers. Grasp it where its mouthparts enter the skin or, if that is not easily visible, grab it by its head (as close to your skin as possible) with the suggested removal tools. Pull the tick straight out firmly and steadily. Do not twist, squash, or crush the tick when you are removing it. Be patient, as proper tick removal takes time. If you notice that even though you've removed the head, some of the tick's mouthparts still remain in your skin, don't worry; the bacteria that cause Lyme disease reside in the tick's gut or salivary glands.

Do not squeeze the tick's body, do not apply petroleum jelly or alcohol, and do not use a hot match, nail polish, or other products while the tick remains attached. These actions could transmit the Lyme-disease-causing bacteria to you.

Once you remove the tick, place it in a container (e.g., a small jar with a lid) and record the date. You can use alcohol to kill and preserve it, or even just some wet paper towel, so you can take it to your doctor to check if it carried Lyme disease. Cleanse the affected area of your skin with an antiseptic (e.g., alcohol) or mild soap and water. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You should also have the tick bite examined by your doctor, especially if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms.

Treating Lyme disease

For people who require treatment for a mild infection associated with Lyme disease, their doctor will usually prescribe an oral (by mouth) antibiotic for 14 to 21 days. These types of antibiotics include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime. The specific antibiotic used will depend on a person's medical history and medication allergies.

For people who require treatment for more severe infections associated with Lyme disease, their doctor will usually prescribe an intravenous (given through the vein) antibiotic (e.g., ceftriaxone, cefotaxime) for 2 to 4 weeks. On occasion, treatment with an oral antibiotic may be prescribed following treatment with an intravenous antibiotic.

If the tick is identified and removed within 72 hours of the bite, and assuming that no skin rash has appeared, your doctor may consider prescribing a single oral dose of doxycycline. This treatment can help prevent the rash from developing.

If you have Lyme disease, your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment for you.

Overall, when you are travelling abroad, especially to developing and tropical countries, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about how to protect yourself from diseases. Aside from watching what you eat and drink and protecting yourself from tick bites, you also have to watch for many other diseases, such as malaria, hepatitis, influenza, and yellow fever. Many of these diseases can be prevented with immunizations, so speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic to see if you are at risk and what immunizations you and your family would benefit from.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: