As we enter the season of travel to warmer climates, the vacationer wants to enjoy the trip and not end up with an infectious disease. Here are some travel tips for safe and healthy travel.
• The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has a travelers health website loaded with valuable travel information for health risks, vaccinations required, and specific travel notices for specific destinations. This information can be found at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. You can choose the destination link, and select the country you are planning to visit for country specific information.
• Travelers’ diarrhea is the most predictably vacation acquired illness. High risk areas include Asia, Middle East, Africa, Mexico, South and Central America. Steps to help decrease the risk of diarrhea when vacationing include: 1) Pack small containers of alcohol based hand sanitizers. 2) Eat food that has been freshly cooked and piping hot. 3) Drink bottled water which has labeled as processed against Cryptosporidium, or bring with iodine tablets and potable water filters if one will need to drink well water or water that is questionably sanitized. 4) Avoid ice cubes or fresh fruit drinks. One has no control of food purchased from vendors or restaurants, so consider the environment, food handling sanitation, and other risks before eating from commercial businesses.
• Be sure your routine vaccinations are up to date. Travel in some countries will require additional vaccinations for malaria, hepatitis A, or yellow fever, etc. See your health care provider at least 4-6 weeks prior to scheduled travel to allow time for vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it.
• If the area has mosquitos or arthropods, have insect repellents, and appropriate clothing packed to help protect from insect bites. Beware of key insect biting times and check for tick bites.
• Inspect hotel room for bed bugs by examining bedding, and mattresses. If bed bugs are found seek other lodging. Keep suitcase closed and off the floor if possible; remove clothes from suitcase only when wearing and return them to the suitcase when done wearing them.
• Be sure you are healthy enough to travel for planned itinerary, and have a plan for what to do if you get ill while on vacation. Pack necessary medications including prescriptions, anti inflammatories, antidiarrheal, and anti malaria medications if needed, and be aware of how you are feeling. Keep a list of medications with you and a list of areas where health care can be obtained at the locations you will be visiting. Travelers may get information about local health care from embassies and consulates of other countries, hotel doctors, and credit card companies.
Vacations are meant to relax, renew and re-energize. Careful attention to your surroundings and health risks, and preparing for the area you are planning to visit, may help insure a healthy experience.
Thu, December 29, 2011
by Pat Solum, Lab Services