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Traveling in the third-world, infections and risk?


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#1 Elizabeth28

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 04:37 AM

Hi everyone!

First, I wanted to thank everyone for all their support, insights and information when I first posted about my current ANA/scl-70 positive, but symptom-free, status. It's been a huge help to me, and I feel so much better knowing I'm part of a community of people who have faced, or experienced, similar things and experiences!

I'm in the midst of trying to decide whether my family and I should move overseas, to a third-world setting, for several years while I finish up my research. (I want to go very much! :) ) We are going to a country I have visited and lived in many times before, where with great effort I'm able to take care of my health and am generally fine, but have occasionally had bouts with typhoid - or upset tummy thanks to water contamination - which were always successfully treated with antibiotics, while the tummy troubles were generally cured with 'time' and rehydration salts (ORS).

My concern is that with my current at-risk status, I will be doing myself a disservice by being somewhere I can potentially get sick. (Though having said that, I do realize I can get sick anywhere! :unsure: ) I've read various articles which talk about the role of viral or bacterial infections in initiating or worsening autoimmune diseases, and would be so grateful for your own thoughts or stories on this issue.

How many of you have traveled to developing world countries, for instance, and do you take extra precautions to avoid falling ill? Or, do you worry that even a minor gastro-intestinal upset - or a chest cold - will cause a flare, etc? I do know to avoid pre-departure travel vaccinations, or any unncecessary injections.

My rheumatologist hasn't responded yet to my calls for either an appointment, or request for a short follow-up phone call where I can express my concerns.

Thank you all!
Elizabeth

#2 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 05:05 AM

Hi Elizabeth,

As you know, I'm not a doctor nor even a travel advisor. However, I am a fairly good risk taker in that I take the time to look at the pros and cons but usually don't let the cons stop me if the pros are tempting enough. ;)

Let's turn the issue on its head. What if you knew for a fact that you were going to develop the worst possible case of scleroderma, ten years from now?

What would you most regret -- taking the risk, or not taking the risk?

Let's say you stay here and get killed in a car accident. Let's say you go there and get killed in a car accident. What would you rather be doing when you died -- playing it safe or living your dreams?

If it is REALLY your dream, then hold tight to it and just go for it despite the fears and worries. Fears and worries will always be there, even if you stayed home nice and safe and sound. If by chance you became sicker while there, you could certainly come home if you had to, couldn't you? And you're already Scl-70 positive so its not like you or your family could blame the trip if by chance you came down with scleroderma while you were over there. You could just as easily be exposed to all sorts of nasty germs at the local supermarket plus you have already had your immune system exposed to most of the bugs you might encounter there.

To borrow a line from Penny, that's just my two cents worth. I just hope if you go that you get internet access so you can update us on your travels and adventures!
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#3 Jeannie McClelland

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 05:49 AM

I'm with Shelley 100%. I can truly say I went there, did that, and am so glad I did.

Some of the things I used to do and some of the places I went are realistically probably beyond me now, but I got to do them. My family got to see different countries, got to know different cultures, have an expanded world-view, make lifelong friends all over the world. That alone made it all worthwhile.

One of things they list as a possible cause of scleroderma is Lyme Disease. I contracted that while camping in Germany! (As you say, it's not just the 3rd world developing nations~) Even if I were absolutely positive that's what caused the systemic sclerosis and subsequent pulmonary hypertension and fibrosis, I still wouldn't regret it.

When the next chance to travel or have an adventure comes up, look out world, here I come!
Jeannie McClelland
(Retired) ISN Director of Support Services
(Retired) ISN Sclero Forums Manager
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International Scleroderma Network