The summer travel season is here!
Where are you heading? Have you thought about the health risk of where you’re going?
You’ve been day dreaming all year about that trip to your favorite Caribbean Island. The sun. The sand. The amazing aqua water. The Chikungunya virus.
Yea, that’s a nasty little virus spread by mosquitoes that causes headache, fever and joint pain. It’s all over the Caribbean and Central America like Panama and Costa Rica. So is Zika virus, which can lead to birth defects when women are infected with it.
Now, don’t go canceling your trip. With a little pre-planning, you can have a great trip and limit those health related issues.
First, keep in mind, picking up a serious tropical disease like malaria or dengue fever is uncommon for travelers, 5% or less. However, up to 60% of travelers will experience a mild illness most of which is upset stomach—Montezuma’s revenge. The number one cause of death while traveling for those under the age of 55 is motor vehicle crashes and drowning. If you’re over 55 years old, heart attacks are the most common killer while traveling.
So, the most important part of healthy travel is preventing accidents (using safe vehicles, safe drivers, using seat belts, limit alcohol) and staying on regular medications to protect your heart.
Next, check out the CDC travel website https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ and choose your destination. The CDC site will tell you all about your travel location. You should definitely make sure you are up to date on regular vaccines like tetanus and measles. Also, make note of the food and water safety tips as well as the bug bite prevention tips. As you read through the CDC recommendations, keep in mind many of the recommendations for preventive vaccines are for very low risk exposures. Typhoid is frequently recommended but not very common in frequently visited locals.
So, how do I know what you really need? That’s my final piece of advice.
I recommend talking with your family physician or a travel doctor a few months before you travel regarding your travel plans to get any questions or concerns cleared up. At Direct Access MD, we provide this service for free for our patients. We review your travel itinerary and your health issues then provide the best options for travel medications and needed vaccines. We provide a healthy travel packing list to help you remember all the things you need to take with you like sunscreen and hand sanitizer.
Travel should be a great adventure not a big headache. These simple planning tips can help you have a safe and memorable trip.
That's what Doc says...