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Another Travel Concern

Tiny worms can bring big problems

If you're getting ready to travel to certain parts of the world, beware of a disease called schistosomiasis. It's caused by parasitic worms that live in fresh water and are prevalent in parts of Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and southern China.

The best way to avoid catching the disease, which starts with a rash for a couple days followed by flu-like symptoms one to two months later, is not to swim in fresh water, to drink only bottled or boiled water and to make sure bath water is heated to 150 degrees for at least five minutes.

If you're accidentally exposed to fresh water containing the worms, immediate, vigorous towel drying may prevent infection, which can damage the liver and cause other internal problems.

If you think you've been exposed to the worms, see a doctor. Drug treatments are effective.

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