Industries Most Affected by Travel Illnesses

By Lauryn Page | 08/27/2016
New illnesses are being discovered around the world, resulting in a rush to contain potential outbreaks. Diseases such as Ebola and Zika have led to great concern for health officials--outpacing historical responses to illnesses such as yellow fever, measles, and malaria. Travel health experts work to properly educate employers about the necessity of good health habits and more importantly, vaccinations, prior to sending employees to foreign destinations that may pose health risks. However, travel illnesses can pose a larger risk to some industries more than others.

Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry makes up between 4.6% and 6.5% of the global economy. The global dependence on fossil fuels results in drilling all over the world, including areas where infectious diseases are prevalent. Countries in West Africa, such as Liberia and Nigeria, are breeding grounds for Malaria and more recently, the Zika virus. With offshore oil drilling, the area is small and employees are living in close quarters for weeks or months at a time. These close quarters are also breeding grounds for meningitis and encephalitis. 

Mining Industry

Like the oil industry, mining employees working overseas often live in close quarters for weeks or months at a time—putting themselves at increased risk of disease. Where they’re working also has a big impact on their health risks. Precious metals and gemstones, for example, are mined in West Africa—an area where the Ebola and Zika viruses are now listed as endemic. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), are currently working together to treat and contain the diseases, but they still pose a significant risk.

Travel/Tourism Industry

The travel and tourism employees are at high risk of contracting travel illnesses. Pilots and flight attendants for the airline industry are unable to screen the health of passengers before travel. Infected patients may often travel without knowing they are ill or mistake the symptoms for those of a more common illness such as season flu. Cruise ship employees who make multiple stops during a trip are also at risk for contracting a virus from passengers.

Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is the offensive line when a travel illness enters the country unannounced. Medical staff perform diagnostic tests, evaluate symptoms, and choose the best treatment to prevent the spread of illness. Quarantining the patient is often a necessary step—which can become complicated when the doctor becomes the patient. Although clinicians are supplied with the latest biohazard protection equipment, it’s hard to adhere to all precautionary measures when the illnesses aren’t identified yet. 

To ensure you and your employees are prepared for international travel, be sure to consult with one of Concentra’s expert travel health specialists. Our certified travel health nurses can provide recommendations and information on diseases and current health issues specific to your exact destination.