Be Wary of Exotic Diseases During Your Medical Elective Placement Overseas

As a heads up for medical students seeking elective placement abroad, be ready to treat patients with exotic diseases. These can be found in poor rural places that were neglected by healthcare services with the worst surroundings in the world.

For a hotbed of unimaginable diseases, the health radar is directed towards Southern Sudan. Situated in northeast Africa, the country was divided into Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan by the civil war in 1955. The economy of Northern Sudan is at par with its developed neighbors. However, the south has been ignored and considered underdeveloped even by African standards.

According to a health specialist at the World Bank, Francois Decaillet, said, “This really is the forgotten front line when it comes to health.”

Malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition, and respiratory infections are the highest killers in most of Africa. Double the count of afflicted persons and you will know the health condition in Southern Sudan. Aside from these, the country is saddled with the existence of horrifying exotic diseases that were exterminated in most of the world.

Are you freaked out? Don’t be because GEP’s destination countries were assessed and safety checks are in place to ensure that medical students are out of harm’s way. In case a sufferer with an exotic disease checks in for treatment, you will be shadowed by our local medical partners. If you get goose bumps, the sufferer will be treated by our local medical partners. All you need to do is observe, learn, and remember.

We researched 5 exotic disease to help you out in your medical placement journey.

Nodding Syndrome

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A newly discovered life threatening disease that pick on children. Medical experts believe this was transmitted by a black fly prevalent in Southern Sudan.

It is fatal, mentally and physically incapacitating. Young victims nod vigorously at the sight of food. It hampers growth forever and result to severe attacks.

Sleeping Sickness

Haut-Uélé, DRCongo, November 2008. Delphine, medical doctor MSF in Banda is doing the round during the new session of injection of the treament for the 2nd stage. This treament is long and the patients have to reveive 4 infusions per day. MSF a ouvert en 2007 un projet « maladie du sommeil » dans le nord de la Province Orientale de la République Démocratique du Congo, à Doruma. Les évaluations conduites par MSF avaient alors montré que le nombre important de cas justifiait la reprise des dépistages actifs et la mise sous traitement des personnes infectées. Zone d¿insécurité à cause des exactions de la LRA mais aussi région difficilement accessible par manque de routes et de ponts, il faut, pour MSF, déployer une logistique importante pour effectuer ces dépistages. L¿autre défi, c¿est celui de pousser la recherche à trouver d¿autres traitements, plus simple d¿administration et surtout moins toxiques pour les patients. Dans la région, depuis le début du projet, 1300 patients ont été soignés et 36.000 personnes ont été dépistés. MSF opened in 2007 a ¿sleeping sickness¿ project North of the Oriental Province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Doruma. Assessments conducted by MSF had shown at the time that the large number of cases justified the resumption of active screening and treatment of people infected. This is a very insecure region due to the atrocities perpetrated by the LRA. Moreover, lack of roads and bridges make for an enormous challenge in terms of access. The need to solve logistic problems is therefore crucial. The other challenge, consists in pushing for more R&D to find other treatments, simple to administer and less toxic for the patients. In the region since the start of the project, 1300 have been cured and 36.000 have been screened.

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Also called African trypanosomiasis and is caused by the bite of a tsetse fly found in Africa.

Victims become disordered and frequently trips. They keep falling asleep even when standing. As the ailment develops, the sleep last longer until the victim drops into unconsciousness which leads to death.

Guinea Worm Disease

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Also called Dracunculiasis and is spread by drinking water containing Guinea worm larvae. It takes a year before the infection is detected.

Before the worm comes out, the victim could develop a fever, swelling and pain in the legs and feet and other body parts. The pain is very excruciating when the female worm comes out of the skin. It can lead to permanent damage if joints become infected and locked.

Bird Flu

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Also called Avian flu, it was detected in Hong Kong and was traced to infected poultry. The most common form of bird flu is H5N1 and can infect animals and humans too.

Human symptoms resemble influenza with symptoms of cough, diarrhea, respiratory difficulties, fever, headache, muscle aches, runny nose, and sore throat.



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Also called Lymphatic filariasis is prevalent in India, Southern Asia, Egypt, Central and South America.

Filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through a mosquito bite. The larvae hibernates and can live for many years. Once the parasite increase in numbers there is a fluid build-up which leads to extreme swelling to arms, legs, breasts and genitalia

Place GEP on top of your list of medical electives provider to ensure your personal and professional growth. We partner medical students who care with people who need medical assistance.

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