Staying Healthy Abroad

or, Malaria Makes a Bad Souvenir
or, I Went on Safari and all I Got Was Hepatitis A

We Americans take for granted much of what keeps us healthy.  We expect our food and water to be uncontaminated.  We expect the neighbor’s dog to have had all his shots.  We expect that if we get sick we will receive prompt and excellent care.  Then, when we travel to the developing world, we forget that none of our expectations apply.  We plan our itinerary, our meals, even our web access, but we forget to plan for our health.

But staying healthy abroad requires planning.  Some of the required vaccines take a month to be effective.  So see your doctor at least a month before you travel.  Before the visit review the Centers for Disease Control recommendations at their Traveler’s Health website (link below).  The website allows you to enter your destination and then gives you up-to-date recommendations for vaccinations, preventive medications and other precautions for that part of the world.  Besides recommendations for your physician, the website has very important recommendation for you, such as how to avoid mosquito bites, reminders to avoid pets (that cute puppy may have rabies!), and advice for avoiding contaminated food and water.

If you take prescription medications, make sure you have enough with you for the whole trip.  (I’m happy to fax a prescription to Tanzania for you, but I’m not sure where the great pharmacies are.  By “great”, I mean pharmacies with a fax machine.)  Since travelers and their checked luggage occasionally get separated, essential medications should be in your carry-on luggage.

So please remember, jaundice and fever do not make for happy leisure time.  Plan ahead to make your vacation memorable and healthy.

Learn more:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler’s Health website

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