Traveling abroad? Don’t depart without your shots
WBAMC Public Affairs:
The trip of a lifetime does not have to include contracting infectious diseases.
Yellow fever, malaria, influenza, meningococcal disease and even rabies are real issues for travelers visiting resource-challenged countries.
“For persons traveling to destinations that have public health [standards] below what we have in the United States, they are exposed to unique infections,” said Lt. Col. Michael Price, head of the Infectious Disease Clinic at William Beaumont Army Medical Center. “Travelers can get sick, have to terminate their trips early or even be hospitalized.”
Whether visiting the undeveloped landscape of Sub-Saharan Africa or the crowded towns of Asia or Latin America, travelers should take strides to keep themselves and their children safe and healthy during their exotic treks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a visit to a travel clinic four to six weeks before travel, especially when planning trips to Africa or Asia, to ensure vaccinations and medications are received early enough to protect the traveler.
The William Beaumont Army Medical Center Travel Center is located in the Infectious Disease Clinic on the second floor of WBAMC next to the dental clinic. Call 569-2504 to schedule an appointment.
Adults should make plans to visit the Travel Clinic for recommendations on pre-travel vaccinations and tips for avoiding more common illnesses, such as traveler’s diarrhea.
Parents planning to bring their children along can consult their pediatricians.
Heading to Africa? Think about getting the meningococcal vaccine – a shot against the serious bacterial illness which can lead to blood infections and is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children ages 2 to 18.
Want to take a trip to the tropical rainforest in South America? Beware of yellow fever – a disease spread through the bite of mosquitoes and includes symptoms such as liver, kidney, respiratory and other organ failure.
WBAMC Travel Clinic and pediatricians can recommend which vaccinations are needed depending on the countries and parts of the world in which patients plan to visit and the activities they will participate in.
Patients are often also outdated on their normal vaccinations which are then updated before travel as well.
In the pediatrics department at WBAMC, doctors follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccinations, said Marlyn Cabrera, chief of pediatrics at WBAMC.
For other diseases, travelers will find no vaccines. However, the Travel Clinic and pediatricians offer some healthy advice on what to avoid when traveling abroad.
To avoid the most common illness – diarrhea – travelers should avoid food from street vendors and places with unclean conditions. Avoid raw and undercooked meats and raw vegetables and fruits. Stick with water from treated sources, carbonated bottled water and water treated with chlorine or iodine.
Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved cotton shirts and long pants. Apply insect repellent containing DEET.
For more information on traveling to resource-challenged areas, contact the Travel Clinic or visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.
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