12/25/2013 12:01:00 AM The Holiday Traveler: Plan ahead for a healthy trip
Thanks to 21st century travel, it's pretty easy to get from Point A to Point B; in fact, over 15 million people will travel abroad this year, with half of those traveling to developing countries. But wanderlust must be tempered by safety: don't book that trip without also booking your immunizations. "It is very important to plan ahead when traveling to certain locations," says H. Gunner Deery, MD, infectious disease specialist with Travel Clinic at McLaren Northern Michigan. "You don't want an illness to be a part of your vacation memories."
For travel health tips, read on.
DISEASE AVOIDANCE - Know About Your Destination
Share detailed information with your health care provider; in addition to your medical history, your doctor will want to know your destination, length of stay, and planned activities. Are you touring museums or hiking the rain forest? Staying in established hotels or sleeping in a tent on the veldt? Your itinerary makes a difference.
VACCINES - Get Your Shots
Provide a complete vaccine record if possible. Vaccines differ in terms of cost and risk, so providing a complete vaccine history will help your provider determine which vaccines are necessary. Routine vaccines include tetanus, measles, and polio boosters, as well as diptheria/pertussis, zoster, human papiloma virus, and influenza vaccinations. Those over age 65 should have the pneumococcal vaccine; children and teens should have a hepatitis B series.
Foreign travel, however, has specific indications for vaccines. Hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies vaccines are recommended for certain travel. Meningitis is common in parts of Africa, and the meningitis vaccine is required for entry into Saudi Arabia. Yellow fever is found in sections of Africa and South America, and immunizations are required for some regions or when crossing into other countries. Rural areas of Southeast Asia and South Asia are known for mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis. Finally, the flu (influenza) is common in North America during the winter months, but it occurs year-round in the tropics; travelers are urged to get the vaccine yearly. Some vaccines require a minimum two-dose series, one month apart, so it is important to begin preparations 6 - 8 weeks before departure.
"Most travelers will never come into contact with these diseases, but it is prudent to take the necessary precautions," adds Deery. "The world is accessible, and that includes its maladies."
PRESCRIPTIONS - Don't Leave Home without Them
Make sure that your prescriptions are filled before departure. Carry a letter from your health care provider with contact information and prescriptions, along with a complete list of medications, their dosage, and their generic names.
TRAVEL ADVICE AND
If you are planning overseas travel, the Travel Clinic at McLaren Northern Michigan can help with vaccines, advanced prescriptions, and health care planning. The Travel Clinic provides education on food and water precautions, altitude sickness, insect precautions, malaria prophylaxis, and self-treatment of traveler's diarrhea. Call (800) 248-6777 for more information or to schedule an appointment before your holiday or winter vacation.
For additional information, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Department of State have extensive websites that address all health and safety concerns for travelers:wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices; www.who.int; and www.travel.state.gov.