Every year millions and millions of tourists visit the tropics to enjoy jungle travel. The innate love for Nature brings them to the tropical world, a few days away from a busy life, career pressure, physical and mental stress, dust & pollution.
Jungle trekking is a very interesting activity, it generally includes swimming, rafting, diving, scuba, walking in the forest, visiting the tribes, playing with wild animals etc. These activities can be a danger if there is no preventive protocol for travelers. In addition to routine general precautions for safety, other aspects should also be considered.
An Australian female tourist visiting Thailand is reported to have a new strain of allergy that has not been reported in the literature before. She had peculiar skin rashes and eruptions for which she visited the physician in a Thai primary health care unit in Bangkok. She revealed that was just back from trekking in Chiangmai Province, northern part of Thailand for one day. She had developed itching on both hands after playing with an elephant during her trip.
British Travel Health Association Journal reports a case of elephant allergy in an Australian female who visited Thailand. It is a case of contact dermatitis and has not previously been reported in the literature.
In this case, the presumptive diagnosis was elephant allergy, considered to be a type of contact dermatitis. The patient had no history of other possible sensitizing contact history except for elephant. She was treated with anti-histamine orally and also cutaneously, responding well to what appeared an allergy to elephants causing contact dermatitis.
In the recent times jungle travel has increased manifold. It is most important that the travelers be informed of the risks they may face in a jungle travel and how to minimize these risks. Trekking into deep forest can bring danger to the travelers if there is no proper preventive plan. There are several infectious diseases like malaria and leishmaniasis that are reported in the travelers returning from trekking.
There are other hazards as well in jungle travel. Durrheim and Leggat reported that there are several cases of attack by wild animals causing injury and death of tourists in South Africa. However, visitors need to be informed of particular health risks regarding elephants, and take measures to avoid elephant allergy. Playing with elephant’s baby is a very common activity with foreign travelers. However what reduces the risk of skin sensitization is washing the hand properly after the play.