Proper Planning Can Reduce Your Risk of Travel-Related Illness
Most travelers are busier planning their itinerary than thinking about potential health issues while traveling. However, studies show that 50 to 75 percent of short-term travelers to the tropics or subtropics report some health impairment. Whether something contagious, an accident, or even an existing condition, it can ruin a trip and have serious consequences on your life.
Important Components of Travel Program
- An analysis of your itinerary, length of stay, and expected activities
- Vaccinations you need based on the part of the world you are traveling to
- Preventive allergy care
- Counseling on prescriptions/medications to bring on your trip
- Educational information for destination-specific medical needs
- High-risk medical planning, if necessary
- Corporate travel services
- Trip insurance/medical evacuation services (AirMed International)
- Traveler's medical kit (available for purchase)
There are two types of health measures for travel to developing countries: required vaccinations like yellow fever, and recommended measures such as malaria pills, typhoid vaccine, and hepatitis A vaccine. In many cases, the recommended measures are more important to keep you healthy than those required by law. Some vaccinations require multiple injections while others cannot be given together. Still others, like yellow fever, must be given at least 10 days before entry into a country. As a general rule, if you have never traveled to developing countries, you should allow four to six weeks to get all your shots. Repeat travelers may only need boosters, and therefore, require fewer visits.
Malaria is an infection of your blood cells transmitted by mosquitoes. The infection is very common in most tropical and semitropical parts of the world. We are seeing more and more cases of malaria in the U.S. and in Cleveland in returning travelers. Most infected individuals will have high fever, chills, headache, and diffuse aching. Malaria may present weeks and even months after leaving an infected area. If you develop symptoms that may represent malaria (especially high fever) in the 6-12 months after you return, mention your travel history to your doctor. Malaria can be a serious infection, but can be easily treated if recognized. Personal measures to avoid mosquitoes is important. These measures include using insect repellent (containing DEET), insect bombs in campsites, netting, screens, and clothing that minimized exposed areas at night (mosquitoes carrying malaria bite between dusk and dawn). Your doctor will frequently prescribe malaria pills that can help prevent infection. Because malaria may take time to cause symptoms, in some cases you may be taking your malaria medication for up to four weeks post-travel.
The World Health Organization reported 1,111 cases of yellow fever in 2016. Yellow fever is caused by the yellow fever virus, which is carried by mosquitoes. It is endemic in 33 countries in Africa and 11 countries in South America. Countries where yellow fever is prevalent require travelers to provide proof of vaccination via a certificate in order to pass through customs and enter the country. Travelers only need to be vaccinated once during their lifetime.
Schedule an Appointment with our Travel Experts
For all of your travel health needs, our expert physicians can help before, during or after your travels within the U.S. or abroad. Contact our team to schedule a pre-travel consult and better prepare for travel safety by calling 216-844-8500.