The best way to stay healthy during travel is to prepare before you leave and take appropriate preventive measures while traveling. Different areas of the world have different diseases and require different precautions. Factors that contribute to these differences include:
The best public sources for up-to-date travel information are the:
Talk to your health care provider or visit a travel clinic 4 - 6 weeks before you leave for your trip. You may need a series of pre-travel vaccinations. Some vaccines need time to become effective.
Depending on the destination, updating or "boosting" routine vaccinations is sometimes recommended. Examples of routine vaccinations include:
You also may need other vaccines for diseases that are not commonly found in North America. Examples of recommended vaccines include:
Certain countries have required vaccinations. You may need proof of vaccination to enter the country.
Yellow fever vaccination is required to enter several Sub-Saharan, Central African, and South American countries. Meningococcal vaccination is required to enter Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage. For a complete list of country requirements, check the CDC or WHO web sites.
People who may have different vaccine requirements include:
Check with your health care provider or local travel clinic.
Malaria is a blood parasite transmitted to people by the bite of certain mosquitoes. The disease is a risk mainly in tropical and subtropical climates.
If you are traveling to a region where malaria is common, you may need to take medications that prevent the disease before you travel, during your travel, and for a short period after you return. The effectiveness of these medications can vary, and you may also need to take additional insect precautions.
Mosquitoes and other insects can transmit malaria and a number of other infections to people. To protect yourself, wear insect repellant containing DEET or picaridin whenever you are outdoors. You may also need to use a bed mosquito net while you sleep.
FOOD AND WATER PRECAUTIONS
It is possible to catch many infections by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Undercooked or raw foods pose a significant risk for infection. Avoid the following:
Drinking water that is not chlorinated enough or that is from areas with poor sanitation can lead to infection. Only drink the following liquids:
Do not use ice in your drinks. Local water can be purified by boiling, or by treating it with certain chemical kits or water filters.
Frequently clean your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based cleanser to help prevent infection.
Avoid standing or swimming in fresh-water rivers, streams, or lakes that are contaminated with sewage or animal feces because they can lead to infection. Generally, swimming in chlorinated pools is safe.
Practice safe sex and use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Always use seat belts when driving or riding in a vehicle.
Most infections acquired while traveling are minor, but in rare cases, they can be severe or even fatal.
WHEN TO CONTACT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Travelers' diarrhea is the most common infection caught while traveling. Diarrhea can sometimes be treated with rest and fluids. Your health care provider may prescribe an antibiotic if you get sick with severe diarrhea while traveling.
If the diarrhea continues or you develop a high fever or dehydration, seek immediate medical care. If you were sick with a fever while traveling, contact your health care provider when you return home.
Travelers' health; Infectious diseases and travelers