Happy Spring! Travel season is among us.
Beautiful spring and summer weather is the perfect time to travel abroad. When you leave the country, it is important to plan ahead and keep in mind some health & safety tips.
Vaccines: there are certain vaccines you need before traveling to some countries to make sure you do not contract that disease as well as bring it back to the US. This includes typhoid and yellow fever, which are not common in the U.S., but are prevalent in African and South American countries. Make sure you are also up to date on tetanus, hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
Eat and drink safely: avoid any undercooked foods and local water. Make sure your water is bottled, and not tap water, including ice in your drinks. Contaminated water is a source for intestinal bacteria and parasites.
Prevent bug bites: Use insect repellent, particularly DEET, which has been shown to be effective against ticks. Ticks and mosquitos transmit disease like Lyme and Malaria. Wear protective clothing and keep in mind the peak hours of exposure and locations that you visit. Grass and vegetated areas may have higher amounts of bugs, and dawn and dusk times are when most insects are active. Bed nets are also helpful.
Stay safe outdoors: make sure you wear loose clothing in the heat and warm clothing in the cold climates. If swimming, make sure you do not swallow contaminated water. Make sure you apply sunscreen if exposed to the sun for long periods of time (SPF 15 or higher with UVA + UVB protection)
Avoid animals: if handling animals, make sure you let your physician know. There are certain vaccines and illness only transmitted by contact with animals, like rabies.
Avoid germs: Practice good hand hygiene and make sure you cough or sneeze into your sleeve if you are sick to prevent others from getting sick.
Avoid contact with bodily fluids: this includes from sexual activity. Make sure you use condoms with any new sexual partners. Avoid injecting drugs, and limit alcohol use. And definitely avoid getting tattoos or anything that involves needles. This is to avoid getting HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
How to seek medical care: make sure you have a plan on how to seek medical care should you need it. This includes any supplemental travel health insurance or getting extra prescriptions from your doctor to last throughout your trip.
Select safe transportation: According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries
Make a travel kit which includes medications, injectables, and supplies to prevent illness or injury. More info on what to pack from the CDC: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/travel-health-kits
The CDC is the best resource for finding out what you need for traveling, other than your doctor. Here is the link: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. As always, consult with your doctor before making any travel plans to make sure you are in perfect health to travel.