(June 2008; Brooklyn, NY) - Getting sick during a vacation can do more than spoil a trip. It can also lead to long-term negative health consequences. Diseases that have been eradicated in the United States are still active in certain countries, and the water supply is not always safe for drinking.
Fortunately, people can protect themselves against illness when they travel. The Maimonides Travel Medicine Service - which is overseen and staffed entirely by infectious disease physicians - offers comprehensive pre-trip medical care, reducing the likelihood that serious illness will occur while abroad.
Among the services offered are:
- Pre-travel examinations. Travelers who want a clean bill of health before their trip can come in for a physical exam.
- Immunizations. Patients receive all necessary vaccines, including tetanus, hepatitis A, yellow fever, polio and typhoid. Vaccination certificates are available if the patient is traveling to a country that requires them.
- Country-specific medical information. All patients receive a package of relevant health advice for their destination - everything from information on outbreaks of concern to international travelers, to how to avoid illness from food or water. The Maimonides Travel Medicine staff also can address any questions or concerns patients may have about their journey.
- Post-trip care. In the event that someone does become sick during a trip, Maimonides infectious disease specialists can diagnose and treat all types of illnesses that are common abroad.
"Whether you're on vacation or traveling for business, it is important to take the appropriate health precautions before leaving the country," says Edward Chapnick MD, Director of the Travel Medicine Service and the Division of Infectious Diseases at Maimonides.
For instance, malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, remains a threat in Africa, certain parts of Asia, and the Amazon region. Travelers to these areas are generally given a prescription for medication that will reduce the chances of contracting the disease.
Getting a vaccination for typhoid, which is spread by contaminated food and water, is recommended for travelers to the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and some parts of Latin America and Asia. Risk is greatest for those who will be in smaller cities, villages, and rural areas. Some countries also require that incoming travelers have a vaccination certificate for yellow fever (also transmitted by mosquitoes), although there is no risk of infection outside of tropical South America and sub-Saharan Africa.
In cases where vaccines are not needed, travelers should know whether they will be in areas with potentially unsafe food and water. They might be advised to use iodine tablets in drinking water, avoid using ice in their beverages, peel raw fruit before eating it, and leave swimming in lakes or rivers off their itinerary.
The Maimonides Travel Medicine Service, open Monday through Friday, is located at 4719 Fort Hamilton Parkway between 48th and 49th Streets, Brooklyn. All patients are seen by appointment and evening appointments are available. Please note that the services are not covered by any health insurance plan. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (718) 283-8578 or visit the web page.