What is Pre-Travel Health?
Pre-travel health includes advice, information and vaccines for the anticipated area of the world the traveler will visit. How likely is it that the traveler will be exposed to a disease which could have been prevented with an available vaccine? Some diseases can “incubate” for months or years before being detected, long after the travel has ended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides travel health information that addresses these health risks and, depending on the particular destination, recommends vaccines against one or more of these vaccine-preventable diseases. Your travel health nurse will discuss your destination and the health risks you’ll likely face. Besides the vaccines themselves, printed information will include measures to stay healthy and safe during travel. It is best to seek advice at least one month prior to travel to a part of the globe that is known for disease.
Our Interactive Map – Click the map markers for recommended Travel Vaccinations
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A growing number of travelers–over 40 million people from industrialized to developing countries each year–are at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. At higher risk are adventure travelers including scuba divers, back country trekkers and hikers, visitors to rural areas and wild game parks, and those living in communal accommodations such as youth hostels.
It is important to get the latest health information for your travel destination. The time of the year, local health alerts and existing local disease outbreaks will determine the vaccines you should get prior to travel. For example, the rainy season in Southeast Asia may contribute to a contaminated water supply making it important to get a Hepatitis A vaccine before going there. Experimenting with local raw or undercooked food anywhere can expose a traveler to Typhoid.
Protect your health! Contact HealthSmartVaccines at least ONE MONTH before your planned departure.
Booster shots for adults are a way to protect yourself from diseases found overseas and in the United States. It is important to know what vaccines you had as a child and if you have received any in recent years. HealthSmartVaccines can advise you on which vaccines you may want to consider whether for travel or general good health.
Why Do I Need Vaccines I Had As A Child?
As we age, our immunity wears down and our body “forgets” we had a vaccine many years before. We need to stimulate our immune system to create new defenses. Many diseases can leave a person debilitated for life or in some cases, people die. There are benefits, risks and costs of vaccines. Benefits normally outweigh the risks and these will be discussed at a pre-travel visit. The website www.cdc.gov/travel provides very detailed travel health advice and the vaccines recommended for specific countries. Health alerts for other diseases are important as we need to take precautions if there is no specific vaccine available such as the case with Malaria.
Recommended vs Required Travel Vaccines
Most people are familiar with “a tetanus shot”…Routine and recommended every 10 years or sooner if you are traveling to a “high risk area.” A polio booster is recommended if one travels to parts of Africa or India. Although we haven’t had a case of polio in the United States in over 25 years, polio is still present in many parts of the world. Periodically, diseases such as measles or pertussis pop up in an area previously thought to be disease free. Another common vaccine recommended is typhoid which should be renewed every 2-5 years. It is important to abide by current health advisories.
Some travel vaccines include:
Hepatitis A: A viral infection of the liver from contaminated food or water. A high fever, nausea, loss of appetite and dark urine can last several weeks and complete recovery can be up to two months. A 2-dose series will protect you for life. Hepatitis A is present in the US and Europe.
Hepatitis B: A liver infection much more serious and deadly than Hepatitis A. It can lead to permanent liver damage, liver cancer and death. It is more prevalent all over the world than AIDS. The vaccine is a 3-dose series given over six months and meant to offer at least ten years of protection. Because it is present in every country in the world, Hepatitis B is now recommended as a routine adult immunization.
Typhoid: A bacterial infection of the GI tract that causes a high fever, severe headache, loss of appetite, general discomfort and diarrhea. Fecal contaminated food is the cause due to poor sanitation when preparing the food. In many cases, hospitalization is required for intense treatment. Travelers going to parts of Central and South America, India and Africa are most at risk. The vaccine will last 2-5 years and is available as an injection or a 4-dose oral vaccine.
Meningitis: Travelers going to sub-Saharan Africa or Saudi Arabia are at the highest risk of getting this potentially deadly bacterial illness that causes inflamation in the brain, severe headaches, fevers, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck. Crowded conditions in certain populations are breeding grounds for this serious illness putting the traveler at high risk.
Yellow Fever: This is spread by mosquitoes in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. Some governments require a yellow fever certificate for entry into their country. Other countries have yellow fever but only “recommend” the vaccine. Still others actually require the certificate if you have been visiting a YF area even if you are just “passing through.”
These are just a few of the vaccines available to the traveler at HealthSmartVaccines. The CDC prepared handout information for travelers is FREE and readily available at www.CDC.gov/travel.
Protecting The Traveler
MOSQUITOES! – We used to think of them as just another summer nuisance until West Nile Virus made it to the United States! Other diseases travelers will be exposed to could be Malaria and Yellow Fever to which we have prevention, or Dengue carrying mosquito fever, to which we do not have prevention. A Malaria carrying mosquito bites during the evening and the Dengue is more likely to bite during the day! Malaria tablets taken during the trip can at least offer some great protection against Malaria. Then there are also ticks and other arthropods……
Travelers Diarrhea – Bacteria, viruses and parasites can all cause diarrhea. 60-80% of all international travelers will complain of some form of diarrhea acquired during their trip. Food and water contaminated with fecal matter is the cause. Because contaminated matter is not always visible to the naked eye, it is important to use special precautions when eating and drinking. Even a brief episode can interrupt fun or take time away from valuable employee business. Your pre-travel health education will include information and preparations to take with you.