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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Constant Cough Since Africa

 claynese - Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:36 am

My husband & I were living in Africa for 6 months (mostly in South Africa with 3 weeks in Egypt and 4 weeks in Kenya). We just returned home to Canada yesterday, but for the past week I have had a cough that is getting worse everyday. There is NO other symptoms of a cold or anything else. I have a history of bronchitis, which I get at least once a year. Is it something to worry about? Thanks! :)
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:12 am

User avatar Hi,
It is rather difficult to attribute a cause for your cough of just over a week's duration without actually examining you and without knowing other details pertaining to your travel.

Therefore, i will confine myself to a general discussion on travel and disease.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (USA), emerging infectious diseases are commonly classified as:
- diseases that have newly appeared in a population("Emerging diseases") and,
- diseases that have existed in the past, but are rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range ("Re-emerging diseases").

Global Travel is associated with an increased risk of health problems.Obviously, certain diseases are more prevalent in certain geographic locations.One other aspect that is being studied is the relevance of the Length of travel(duration of travel to a particular country or region).

Length of travel appears to be associated with health risks.
- long-term travelers (trip duration >6 months) and short-term travelers (trip duration <1 month).

Studies indicate that areas of concern for long-term travelers were vector and food-borne diseases, contact-transmitted diseases, and psychological problems.For short term travelers, acute infections were found to be more common(ex; influenza,dengue fever, acute diarrhea, rickettsiosis, sexually transmitted infections), animal bites, and insect bites.

While concluding, let me mention a few of the potential respiratory system related risks that are prevalent in some parts of some of the countries you had traveled to.

South africa: Like in many other countries,the environmental impacts of the mining industry have been affecting to some areas of the Witwatersrand, the country's most densely populated region. Mining-related environmental hazards are a concern.The dust from mine dumps can contribute to respiratory diseases, such as silicosis.Cleaning up and safety procedures have been implemented by the government.

Egypt: in some of the central parts of the Nile Delta, many people are occupied in the cultivation of the plant, flax and the production of flax fibres(used to produce linen). Dust which emanates in high concentrations during the processing, is known to cause Byssinosis, a respiratory ailment in people who are exposed for prolonged periods.Workers in the cotton industry are also exposed to the risk of Byssinosis.

Influenza risk is common to many countries including the ones you had traveled to.

So, it is quite obvious that there can be no simple answer to your query. It probably depends on the length of your stay in a given country, the places you visited, and the type of activity you were involved in (outdoors, indoor,urban or rural etc).
Hope your cough has improved by now. Hope it was just an attack of 'flu'.
Best wishes!

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