This entry is cross posted on my sabbatical blog.
On the plane yesterday I took the opportunity to review all the health information and travel advisories that were provided to me by the travel health clinic I visited before I left. Here are the eight that sounded the worst to me.
1) Kidnapping by The FARC: The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) have held travelers in one of the northern provinces of Ecuador. Fortunately, my travel plans will not take me to that province.
2) HACE: High Altitude Cerebral Edema is even worse than it probably sounds. At high altitudes your body produces more red blood cells and works harder to get enough oxygen into your body. In the process, capillaries can burst. I am not a doctor by HACE seems to be a kind of brain-bleeding caused by high altitude. It results in disorientation, confusion, lethargy, coma, and death. Guess I’ll have to reconsider my plan to climb Chimborazo.
3) HAPE: Your lungs instead of your brain. With High Altitude Pulmonary Edema your lungs fill with fluid. HAPE can also be fatal.
4) Dengue Fever: Reading about symptoms of this disease (acute hemorrhagic fever, for starters) was pretty scary. Fortunately, the mosquitoes that carry it don't live up in the mountains.
5) Landmines: Fortunately (for me) these are only found in the southern provinces along the border between Ecuador and Peru. This is another place my travel plans will not bring me.
6) Leishmaniasis: Looks like being up in the mountains safeguards me from this one too. The parasite that causes it comes from a bite by a sandfly. The wikipedia article on this disease is especially disturbing.
7) H1N1 Virus: Good thing I brought some doses of Tamiflu with me.
8) Volcanoes: “Volcanoes, including those in areas near Quito, may be active, and news reports should be monitored prior to travel.” Considering that Quito basically sits in the shadow of the Pichincha Volcano, this is actually kind of worrisome.