Millions of Americans travel overseas every year. A vacation abroad can be the experience of a lifetime, but it becomes memorable in a very different way if you get sick. As summer travel season approaches, now is a good time to start thinking about how to avoid travel-related illnesses. A visit to the Maimonides Travel Medicine Service at Maimonides Medical Center is a good place to start.
The key to an enjoyable vacation is taking appropriate
health precautions before leaving home and also during your trip. Our Travel Medicine team provides a complete range of pre- and post-travel medical services. Every patient is evaluated by a physician, and a plan is formulated based on the traveler’s itinerary, medical history and current medications. We give each person a destination-specific travel package of medical information, as well as travel alerts and telephone numbers of local medical providers.
There are some basic measures to take when you’re traveling to developing parts of the world and rural areas. To avoid travelers’ diarrhea, be careful about what you eat and do not drink tap water, including ice. Even some bottled waters are not reliable; if you must drink the water, we may recommend that you use iodine tablets. Carbonated beverages, alcoholic beverages and pasteurized juices are safe. Leave swimming in freshwater lakes or rivers off your itinerary. When it comes to eating, remember the rule “Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.” Apply sunscreen to prevent serious sunburn and insect repellent to avoid bites. And remember that the leading cause of injury for overseas travelers is car accidents.
Think twice about driving yourself, and always wear your seat belt. Completing a recommended immunization plan before departure is the most important way to prevent travel-related diseases. Malaria, for example, is a disease spread by mosquitoes that can be very serious but is also largely preventable. People traveling to Africa, certain parts of Asia and the Amazon region should be prescribed medication that will reduce their chances of contracting malaria. Anyone planning to visit the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and some parts of Latin America and Asia should be vaccinated for typhoid, a life-threatening illness that is spread via contaminated
food or water.
Many vaccines take at least four weeks to achieve maximum effectiveness, so be sure to plan ahead.
Think of pre-travel medical services as insurance. These illnesses are uncommon, but if you do contract them, they can range from being inconvenient to being serious and potentially even deadly. Many of them are preventable by simple, safe and effective measures.
If you should fall ill during a trip abroad, our Travel Medicine Service team can provide you with comprehensive care to get you healthy and ready for your next adventure.
For more information about our services or to make an appointment, please call (718) 283-8578.