Don’t worry. There are very few things you are going to catch there that can’t be fixed. Thousands of Americans live and work in the developing world, and with knowledge and a few basic precautions the vast majority avoid any lasting ill effects on their health. While you will be at risk for some scary sounding stuff, we have good prevention and treatment for most of these things.
Here is a brief rundown of my health training designed to prepare us to live in remote African villages. Some of it may be relevant to you.
You almost certainly will have intestinal troubles, and perhaps quite a bit. I’ve been living abroad for 3 years and have had intestinal troubles for 3 years. Strict attention to water, unpeeled fruit, etc. can keep you from getting the worst stuff. But you will get something. Read up on making dehydration salts and the BRAT diet so that you know how to handle it. If your diarrhea is severe for more than a few days, have a doctor run some tests. Most things that cause diarrhea are pretty easily treated with a short course of the appropriate anti-biotic.
Take your malaria pills diligently. Make sure you really read the instructions. Even minor slip-ups can create quite a bit of risk. Make sure to take it for the recommended period of time before and after your trip. If your medication isn’t working for you for some reason, see a doctor and switch to another. There are a few options. But don’t just stop taking them. And of course, it’s best not to get bitten in the first place. Get a mosquito net and use it.
If the worst happens, make sure you know the signs of malaria. It’s really not that difficult to treat (though the treatment will knock you out for a week) but it’s important to start treating it immediately. To the untrained eye it can seem like a number of other things. But malaria tests are quick and easy- if in doubt, get one. Also, for the next year or so, if you get any malarial symptoms in the US, make sure your doctor understands that you have been to a malaria zone and can recognize malaria. Most US doctors have very limited experience and may not recognize it unless you tell them it is a risk.
Don’t swim in fresh water. You can easily get schisto, which makes you pee blood and causes all kinds of other problems. It can fester for years without you knowing it. And it can be in any natural fresh water. Don’t trust anybody about which lakes or whatever are safe. They don’t know. It’s best just to avoid fresh water entirely. Swimming is fun, but it’s not worth schisto.
Don’t touch any dogs or cats, no matter how cute or domesticated they seem. Rabies is common and is found even in household pets in big cities. Most Indian dogs will run away if you appear like you are bending down to pick up a rock.
Pay attention to your skin. If something starts looking infected, wash it and slather it with anti-biotic gel NOW. Even minor wounds get infected easily and you may be at risk for staph infections, which are ugly and a pain to deal with.
There isn’t a ton you can do to prevent TB exposure. It’s certainly a possibility, but it is unlikely to make you sick. Chances are you’d just have to do the meds (no drinking for 9 months!).
There is filaria in India. If you are in a filaria area, there are prophylactic medications you can take.
Use a condom.
You’ll be fine!