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By Laurie Sullivan

Red hot motorcycle mufflers… petrol-soaked skipping ropes at Full Moon parties… bare feet on baking sand… flaming cocktail drinks. There’s a long list of ways to get a burn on an overseas holiday.

And, they’re not the exclusive province of young travellers: Friction or ‘gravel rash’ burns from a fall onto a roadway or concrete footpath are even more common.

Together they add a whole new meaning to ‘travel hotspot’.

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By Laurie Sullivan

Everyone’s heard a horror story of someone who has come a cropper over travel insurance.
They either don’t have insurance only to get sick/injured/ripped off overseas and their parents/family/friends had to sell a kidney to get them treated and brought home.
Okay, not a kidney, but you get the idea. It can turn into a very expensive nightmare.
Then there are those who are insured and make a claim only to get knocked back because of some obscure clause buried in the policy’s ‘fine print’.
These often-tragic tales become the stuff of travel urban legends, swapped in hushed tones by travellers who fervently hope that they’ll never add their own unhappy chapter.
The Australian government’s smartraveller website has many such stories. The altered names barely disguise the physical and financial pain visited on each luckless traveller and their families when holidays go wrong. 

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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic*

Could condoms help protect Australian babies from the dangers of the mosquito-borne Zika virus?
The answer’s ‘yes’.
Let me explain why…
Much has been written recently about the suspected link between the mosquito-borne Zika virus and a sudden spike in microcephaly in infants born to women infected during pregnancy in Latin America.
Experts from around the globe are studying the phenomenon. However, it’s looking increasingly likely that the virus is the cause of the condition, which results in the child being born with a smaller skull and brain, leaving them with lifelong neurological damage.
But, it’s not only women already pregnant or those planning to conceive who should either avoid travel to Zika-infected regions – which now includes much of the Caribbean, the Americas, and parts of SE Asia, the Pacific and Africa – or, if they do go, take measures to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.
Their male partners also should be aware of the potential threat Zika could pose.
And, that’s where condoms come in.

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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic*

Aussie travellers have been criticised for their laid-back attitude to in-flight fashion.
Expedia surveyed more than 11,000 travellers from 22 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, and Latin America on their flying habits.
Of the Australians surveyed, 91% of respondents (both women and men) said they dressed for comfort and ‘didn’t care how they looked’. They were happy to forego trendy tight jeans and body-hugging jackets for track pants and a jumper.
You know what? All those Aussie travellers are absolutely right to risk the odd fashion faux pas by choosing loose-fitting clothing – especially for a long international flight.

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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic*

If you were to examine the surface of some types of fruit and vegetables through a microscope you’d see a maze of cracks and crevices.
Invisible to the naked eye, these tiny trenches are perfect places for germs to become trapped and multiply.
We’ve seen just how effective contaminated salad vegetables can be at causing food poisoning over the past week. As of Monday, 92 people had been made ill by salmonella across Australia after eating pre-packaged leafy salad mixes, with more expected.
Although the outbreak is still under investigation, food industry experts believe it’s linked to either contaminated fertiliser (from chickens), or to the water that was used to irrigate the crop or wash the lettuce before it was bagged at Tripod Farms in Victoria.
Salmonella is an increasingly common cause of food poisoning in Australia. There were just over 17,000 lab-confirmed cases here last year – the highest tally in 25 years. Many milder cases are not recorded at all.
Worryingly, strains of the bacterium are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.  

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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic*

Our Games athletes and officials have been advised to pack a mosquito-proof bed net when they travel to Brazil for the 2016 Olympics in August.
Australian organisers want to ensure our team members avoid mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Malaria is also present in areas of the northern Amazon states.
But, it’s Zika that is creating global headlines. The WHO yesterday declared Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and has urged a coordinated international response. 
There have been an estimated 1.5 million cases in Brazil in the past 10 months and the virus is now spreading rapidly throughout neighbouring countries of the Americas and the Caribbean. At least 26 nations have reported Zika to date, while dengue and chikungunya are well entrenched in every country in the region.
What’s added a tragic twist to the Zika tale is the strong suspicion that the virus is behind hundreds of cases of microcephaly in infants born to mothers infected during pregnancy, as well as (much rarer) cases of the auto immune disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome. Scientists also believe it can be passed on in semen, breast milk and through blood transfusions.
Despite this, for 80% of people who get the virus the symptoms are either mild or completely absent. But, even without the rash, red eyes, low-grade fever and joint pain lasting up to a week, anyone with the virus in their bloodstream can pass it on if an Aedes mosquito bites them and then bites someone else. 

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