Burt: Tips for healthy international travel
November 27, 2012
International travel can be a wonderful way to see new sights, experience other cultures or just "get away from it all."
When you are planning your adventure, don't forget to make an appointment with your doctor for a pre-travel visit.
Travel to new lands means exposure to diseases and environmental conditions that your body may not be used to, and your doctor can help minimize the risk that illness could interfere with your experience.
Schedule a pre-travel visit at least four to six weeks before you embark on your travels to allow time for any needed vaccinations to take effect.
Before the visit, you may find it helpful to go to the CDC travel website (www.cdc.gov/travel) and read recommendations for your travel destination, which may include vaccinations and malaria prevention medication.
Most of the 1,500 cases of malaria in the U.S. every year could be prevented with proper precautions during travel abroad. If you have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, talk to your doctor about precautions specific for you, and be sure to have enough medication to last through your trip and beyond.
Most importantly, have fun but play it safe. If you are traveling outside of the developed world, when eating food prepared for you, it's best to stick to things that have been cooked.
If you eat raw fruits or vegetables, first wash them with drinkable water or peel them yourself.
Avoid drinking tap water or ice made from tap water. Keep mosquitoes away with a DEET-containing repellant and appropriate clothing.
Although I have been bitten by a piranha while swimming in the Amazon River and stung by a man-o'-war on the coast of Africa, I have generally avoided major travel mishaps through a combination of preparation and a little luck.
I wish you the same and happy travels.
Dr. Andrew Burt serves patients at Sierra Care Physicians in Penn Valley.
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