Staying Healthy During International Travel

If you're planning an international vacation there is more to do than making reservations and deciding what to pack. You should also plan to stay healthy. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports.

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We are not just going to the usual places anymore. iExplore-dot-com's Top Ten World Travel Destinations for 2005, include Egypt, Peru, China, India and South Africa. However, it's not only the far flung spots that you should research before traveling.

"For example, Germany or Finland, or some place that you might assume would have no increase risk for travel."

Dr. Melanie Mouzoon is Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's Managing Physician for Immunization Practices. She says even places in Western Europe can have an outbreak of a disease that is controlled here and for which vaccination or medication will keep you healthy. Dr. Mouzoon says there is even malaria on one of the islands of the Bahamas'.

"Malaria transmission in the Bahamas has been interrupted for years. There's not been ongoing malaria in the Bahamas until recently. There's been an outbreak of 14 cases associated with one of the islands in the Bahamas, Great Exuma, but not with the other islands."

Doesn't mean you can't go there; just take the appropriate anti-malarial drugs before you go. Dr. Mouzoon says there two places to get information about travel health online; the Kelsey-Seybold web site and the Centers for Disease Control, you'll find links for both sites at kuhf.org.

"There are also good travel medicine services in town, Kelsey-Seybold has travel medicine services as does St. Luke's Hospital. You can schedule an appointment with a travel medicine nurse who has been trained and uses similar information from the CDC and another source called Travex."

She says travel clinics will also likely have immunizations and medications used by travelers. General Practitioners don't keep yellow fever vaccine or malaria medications in stock for example.

There are three types of immunizations travelers should be aware of, the routine type we all get. That includes a new tetanus booster that also protects against whooping cough, recommended vaccines like the one for hepatitis A.

"Hepatitis A is very serious when adults catch it. It is actually a very common diarreal illness in young children who often don't even get jaundiced. But adults can get quite ill with hepatitis A and even die from it."

And then there are the required vaccines, those needed to get into a country. Again, the latest information is online at CDC web site and at area travel services clinics. The bottom line is put a much planning into staying healthy on your vacation as you do into planning where to go, where to stay and what to pack.

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