Long May You Run

This summer, travel well & travel safe

By George M. Withers

Some of the world's most spectacular destinations can be home to some of the world's nastiest bugs. Yellow fever, malaria, hepatitis, dysentery—all of these can strike international travelers. The MUHC Clinic for Tropical Diseases alone treats over 1,200 people every year. Protection comes with education. Learn what vaccines or health precautions are advisable for your destination. Give vaccines time to take effect. See your doctor or travel clinic four to six weeks before your trip.

Vaccines & Boosters: Yellow fever, typhoid fever, Hepatitis, Malaria, Dengue Fever and even polio can be found in parts of Africa, Asia and South America. Even if you were vaccinated as a child, you might need a booster shot. Whether transmitted via insect bites, contaminated food and beverages or unsanitary conditions, it’s a good idea to have all of your bases and shots covered.

Tetanus: For the more adventurous traveler and those of us who might be more accident prone, a tetanus booster is a good idea if your idea of a vacation involves lots of diving, jumping, climbing or crawling. Tetanus infections usually occur due to injuries to the skin, whether you step on a nail or get frostbite.

Diarrhea: Montezuma’s Revenge. It’s the top travel-related illness, affecting up to half of international travelers. Rarely is diarrhea a real threat to adults, but for any young children or frail, elderly people, a doctor should be consulted right away since dehydration becomes a danger. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends avoiding tap water, food sold by street vendors, raw or undercooked meats and seafood, and peeled fruits and vegetables. A good rule of thumb: boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it.

Sunshine: Few things take the fun out of a beach vacation like red or blistered skin. Besides being painful, UV rays and sunburn can lead to premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. Protect yourself with a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays.tors also recommend staying inside or in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., even on cloudy days.

Lay of the Land: Be sure to learn or write down some basic phrases, most important among them being words for doctor, hospital, medicine, pharmacy and “I think I’m having a heart attack.” Print out a map of the neighbourhood in which you’ll be staying and highlight all of the local medical centres, including hospital and pharmacies.

DIY First-Aid Kit: You can purchase a first aid kit but why not build your own personal kit suited to your needs, medical conditions and destination? Here’s a checklist for most basic kits: Disposable latex gloves, adhesive bandages of various sizes, antiseptic spray or ointment, sunscreen, cotton swabs, scissors, tweezers, antifungal or antibacterial creams, saline eye drops; antibacterial hand wipes or an alcohol-based hand cleaner; acetaminophen and/or aspirin and/or ibuprofen.

Summer 2013, Vol 5 N°3

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