The ‘safest’ and ‘most dangerous’ holiday destinations

The ‘safest’ and ‘most dangerous’ holiday destinations for disease outbreaks

As well as fabulous weather (hurricane season excluded) and paradise-like scenery the island nations of Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, St Martin and Trinidad and Tobago have each had just one major disease outbreak since 1996, according to World Health Organisation.

That’s great if you can afford it, but if you can’t there are destinations closer to home which have had just one epidemic, according to data compiled by health blog Letsgetchecked.com.

Sweden and Norway, for example, although they are very expensive once you’re there and good weather isn’t guaranteed. Ireland, Hungary and maybe Morocco are more suitable for the budget-conscious.

Further afield the far-eastern nation of Laos had one outbreak as did the Central American country of Guatemala. Both are beautiful, fascinating countries with tropical climates where pretty much everything is super cheap.

China has had the second most disease outbreaks since 1996, according to WHO
China has had the second most disease outbreaks since 1996, according to WHO (Image: Pixelflake)

On the flip side, there are countries which have had many disease outbreaks, a few of which are popular tourist destinations.

The worst is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with 242 outbreaks. But it’s highly unlikely you’re going to voluntarily travel to one of the world’s most dangerous countries, even when you exclude disease.

Of the countries you might actually want to visit, China is the worst with 184 outbreaks followed by Indonesia (147 outbreaks) which includes the holiday island of Bali.

Egypt, home to the popular destination of Sharm el-Sheikh follows with 114.

Also among the worst is Vietnam, an affordable, beautiful and friendly place, let down by 66 outbreaks.

Surprisingly, the USA sits in the top 10 worst for epidemics with 52 outbreaks.

So why are some countries more prone to outbreaks of disease?

Zara Fullerton from LetsGetChecked explains: “Important reasons to note for these global outbreaks include climate change, for example, extreme weather events such as storms and floods are often followed by an increase in infectious diseases.

“Outbreaks of diarrhoeal and respiratory illnesses can occur when access to clean water and sewage systems are disrupted and people are living in crowded conditions.

“A temperature rise may also increase the spread of vector-borne infections such as malaria, dengue, Zika, and yellow fever. Other factors such as urbanisation, population growth and an increase in antimicrobial resistance will also impact the spike in outbreaks arising.

“Certain areas of the world are also experiencing rapid population growth. For example, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, is increasing at a rate of 2.65% per year – more than twice the highest rate of population growth experienced by high-income countries since the 1950s.

“Rapidly growing populations may increase the risk of infection due to poor sanitation, high population density and limited healthcare access.”

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