Summer is a prime time for international travel. Although overseas experiences can be wondrous adventures, they can also expose you to new diseases and infections — especially during the warmer months when bacteria and viruses are thriving.
Considering the potential infections that can sidetrack your travel plans, the CDC recommends visiting a travel medicine specialist before leaving the country.
Why (and When) You Should Seek a Travel Medicine Service
Visiting a travel health specialist before your trip can spare you these potential ‘headaches’:
- You would not be able to enjoy your trip if you became ill and needed to be kept in isolation
- By becoming ill, you could pose a risk to not only yourself, but also to other travelers and to the local community
- You could bring back an infection with you, which could endanger the health of your family, friends, coworkers, and your community
- Many countries require vaccination certificates, such as for yellow fever or meningitis, without which you may be sent back to your home at your own expense
According to the CDC, you should see a travel doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. That’s the amount of time required for any vaccines you might need to take effect and protect you.
How Can a Travel Health Professional Help?
Medical providers who specialize in travel health know the conditions that prevail around the world and can help you with preventive measures before you depart. Your travel specialist will consider the following factors to advise you on steps to take before, during, and immediately after your trip (malaria protection, for example, often involves taking medication for a month after leaving the host country):
- Your age, current health, and medical history
- The record of your seasonal vaccinations
- The destination(s) of your journey
- The length of your trip
- Possible activities you may have planned (hiking, safari, rafting, camping, and humanitarian aid, etc.)
Depending on this information, your travel health specialist will be able to tell you what illnesses and diseases you are most at risk for, and which vaccines, medicines or supplies you may need. These recommendations can vary widely based on the particulars of your travel plans.
The following are some of the most common illnesses that you can get from overseas travel, especially if you are traveling to tropical countries:
- Infectious diarrhea
- Yellow fever
- Japanese B encephalitis
- Tick-borne encephalitis
The different vaccinations that your travel medicine specialist may recommend include:
- MMR vaccine
- Japanese encephalitis
- Yellow fever vaccine
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Overseas travel should be safe and enjoyable, yet some destinations deserve more health precautions than taking a day trip to the county fair. The goal of every world traveler should be to remain healthy before, during, and after the trip. Visiting a travel health professional before your vacation should be part of your proactive strategy.
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