Buckle up, traveler

Infectious diseases are often talked about during wilderness talks. Everyone knows that you can get rabies/ETEC/Giardia when you’re out in the wild or traveling. What people don’t mention frequently are the main causes of getting hurt or killed while traveling. This article uses US State Department data of US citizens who died of non-natural causes in other countries.

  • 33% of injury deaths are from MVCs
  • The lower income the country, the higher the risk of death from MVC
  • Drowning is the highest cause of death in island nations
  • Violent causes (homicide, suicide, terrorist act) of death are lower than native peoples of the area you’re visiting.
  • 96% of terrorist deaths were in the Middle East

The lower income the country, the more dangerous the injury. This likely has more to do with lack of trauma/emergency resources than anything else. The crux of the issue is that most if not all are probably preventable, if only we would wear seatbelts and wear helmets (or not ride motorcycles). Even in taxis, seatbelts are incredibly important. This goes for developed countries as well.

Tonellato DJ, Guse CE, Hargarten SW. Injury deaths of US citizens abroad: new data source, old travel problem. J Travel Med. 2009 Sep-Oct;16(5):304-10. [PMID 19796099]

Don’t fret. You’re more likely to die of natural causes than accidental ones. And infectious diseases make up less than 2% of total deaths.

Baker TD, Hargarten SW, Guptill KS. The uncounted dead–American civilians dying overseas. Public Health Rep. 1992 Mar-Apr;107(2):155-9. [PMC1403624]

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EBM Gone Wild

Wilderness Medicine

Emergency physician with interests in wilderness and prehospital medicine. Medical Director of the Texas State Aquarium, Padre Island National Seashore, Robstown EMS, and Code 3 ER | EBM gone Wild | @EBMGoneWild |

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