March 1, 2001 - University of Indiana: Indiana University Sophomore Kyra Busch will be spending six weeks in Burkina Faso later this year with her brother Jonah, a 2000 graduate of IU, who is currently volunteering with the Peace Corps.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Burkina Faso: Peace Corps Burkina Faso : The Peace Corps in Burkina Faso: March 1, 2001 - University of Indiana: Indiana University Sophomore Kyra Busch will be spending six weeks in Burkina Faso later this year with her brother Jonah, a 2000 graduate of IU, who is currently volunteering with the Peace Corps.

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, May 26, 2003 - 12:30 pm: Edit Post

Indiana University Sophomore Kyra Busch will be spending six weeks in Burkina Faso later this year with her brother Jonah, a 2000 graduate of IU, who is currently volunteering with the Peace Corps.

Indiana University Sophomore Kyra Busch will be spending six weeks in Burkina Faso later this year with her brother Jonah, a 2000 graduate of IU, who is currently volunteering with the Peace Corps.

Students travel despite health risks

By Jen Gossman
Salubrious Student

"I know I'll get something"
Expert advice
What you don't know can hurt you
Going the distance

Burkina Faso, a landlocked republic in West Africa, is among the most impoverished countries in the world. The Indiana University Health Center's Travel Health Planner labels it "Risk Level 3," which means travelers to Burkina Faso are at high risk for contracting diseases from contaminated food, water and insects.

Because it is a land-locked country south of the Sahara Desert, Burkina Faso's average temperature toward the end of its dry season in June reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Photo by Jen Gossman / Salubrious Student
Indiana University Health Center travel nurse Ruellen Fessenbecker vaccinates sophomore Kyra Busch for her upcoming trip to Burkina Faso.

"I know I'll get something"
Indiana University Sophomore Kyra Busch of West Lafayette, Indiana is aware of the country's wretched public health and climate, but nevertheless she will be spending six weeks in Burkina Faso later this year. She plans to stay with her brother Jonah, a 2000 graduate of IU, who is currently volunteering with the Peace Corps.

Busch will participate in a Rotary International project to bring French-language textbooks to classrooms in the largely Francophone country. She will also assist Peace Corps volunteers teaching villagers about Guinea worm disease, which is contracted when people consume stagnant water contaminated with fleas.

"Almost every foreigner in Burkina Faso has a parasite or bacteria even though they have been vaccinated, so I know I'll get something," Busch says in an interview. "I'm not really concerned because I'm just trying to think positive."

Determined to stay healthy herself, Busch has been reading about travel health issues. And she has begun receiving vaccinations from the IU Health Center Travel Clinic, which provided her with an exhaustive list of mandatory and highly recommended vaccinations.

Her arms already are black and blue from vaccinations for yellow fever, rabies, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, polio, typhoid, tetanus and diphtheria, influenza, measles, mumps and rubella, in addition to taking antimalarial pills and a TB skin test.

Although not all international travelers face the same risks as Busch on her journey to Burkina Faso, traveling to nearly any country entails a health risk. Mexico, a country often visited by university students, includes numerous health risks such as traveler's diarrhea, malaria, yellow fever, dengue, filariasis and typhoid.

Despite these risks, Busch and many other university students are eagerly traveling--and they are not hesitating to stray far from home.

Expert advice
Ruellen Fessenbecker is the head travel nurse at the IU Health Center. From 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Fessenbecker's office is bustling with students coming and going as she provides travel advice and distributes vaccinations. Nancy Macklin, the director of nursing at the health center, observes that Fessenbecker sometimes has vaccination appointments every 10 minutes. Once she counsels students, they later return to receive vaccinations for their travels.
Graphic courtesy of the Indiana University Health Center

Her role is crucial to the meticulous process travelers often encounter before their trips. The information she provides can either convince or dissuade students depending on how dangerous the risks are in a country and how comfortable one feels traveling.

From spring break and summer vacations to international study programs and missionary trips, students are taking advantage of their time in college to travel abroad. Macklin has become highly aware of this "travel trend." Macklin has been Fessenbecker's supervisor since she began eight years ago and has seen first hand the many students coming to Fessenbecker for travel advice and vaccinations.

"I try to anticipate their questions, but the biggest question they ask is 'how much will it (the vaccination) hurt' and the second question they ask is 'how much will it cost'!" Fessenbecker chuckles.

This second question is quite common because vaccinations tend to be costly, especially for university students who are on tight budgets. Students must frequently weigh safety against cost and decide which vaccinations are the most imperative. For example, a series of rabies inoculations costs $390, which is nearly the entire cost of Busch's airfare. Busch will pay for her vaccinations with the international experience grant she received from the IU Honors College.

What you don't know can hurt you
The most widespread travel risks are associated with diseases contracted from contaminated food and water, as well as from insect bites or tainted blood. Fessenbecker and other travel health professionals must remain up-to-date on the latest health concerns around the world. The health center uses a computer program called "Travax," which obtains its information from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Travax offers information similar to the CDC's travel section, such as required vaccinations and travel concerns in every country but in a more organized manner.
Graphic Courtesy of the I.U. Health Center Immunization and Travel Clinic
Countries shown in white are classified as Risk Level 1: Low risk of disease from food, water and insects. Countries shown in gray are Risk Level 2 (moderate risk) and countries shown in black are Risk Level 3 (high risk).

Malaria is one of the most prevalent health threats in the developing world, including Mexico and the Caribbean. Malaria, a four-stage infection caused by a parasite and passed on by mosquitoes, kills more than one million people a year. Travelers going to areas where malaria is common must obtain a prescription for a prophylactic drug from a physician.

While popular tourist-attracting countries such as France, Mexico, Caribbean Islands, Thailand and Israel may seem as different as night and day from one another, they share one thing in common: they have a higher incidence of traveler's diarrhea, a common illness caused by contaminated food and water. Many vacationers spend their visits to these countries in bed or at doctors' offices because they have not taken basic precautions before traveling abroad. A simple task like boiling water can prevent such misfortunes.

"During spring break (in Acapulco, Mexico) I didn't know which foods were okay to eat mostly because my friends and I just didn't think enough to read up on it before we went," sophomore Becky Emery says.

The CDC advises travelers to "boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it," meaning that only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables that have been peeled by the individual should be eaten. The agency provides specific guidelines for consuming food and water in order to avoid traveler's diarrhea.

Going the distance
But the fear of being laid low with so-called "Delhi belly" in a developing country does not deter tens of thousands of university students from traveling abroad each year. They are still reaching distant lands like China, Egypt, Thailand and Switzerland, experiencing new phenomena and seeing life from a new perspective. For some, like Busch, they expect the trip's benefits to outweigh the costs. Busch even intends to study in Thailand and France next year after her summer in Burkina Faso. She thinks her time in Burkina Faso will prepare her for her next journey.

"The whole idea of it is to take yourself out of your element and to test yourself," Busch declares. "I've got a friend in Cuba, one going to Madagascar, and there's a group of students here going to Kenya, but I'm not worried or anything. I guess if I can make it though this then I can make it through anything."

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Story Source: University of Indiana

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Burkina Faso; Health Risks



By Emmanuel Drabo ( on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 2:23 am: Edit Post

After reading Kyra Busch and her brother`s story, I was very impressed by their courage and appealed by their enthusiasm and engagement. I`m Emmanuel Drabo, a Burkinabe student at the Armand Hammer United World College in Montezuma NM and seeing students like Kyra Busch and her brother taking active part in experiencing the realities of this country, I`m encouraged to take more active part in my country . Therefore, as I did last summer, I`m looking for volunteers to help me develop an educational program during the coming summer. I will basically teach kids how to speach English and do mathematics, but we will also work with them on nonviolence. There many other plans also that this note won`t explain. But if anyone, Kyra Busch and her brother par excellence, are interested in helping me, please email me as soon as possible at: or
you can also write or call at:
Emmanuel Drabo
Po Box 354,
Montezuma NM, 87731

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