If you are planning to travel outside of the United States, oftentimes you are strongly urged, if not required to get vaccinations. Bringing an unwanted traveler with you, like a cold, on vacation or a business trip, sounds pretty terrible. Bringing a potentially deadly disease back home with you is much worse for you and potentially your family or community. This is why it is so important to do your research and get your vaccinations before you travel.
We see news reports all the time about pandemics in other countries. By receiving vaccinations, you decrease your vulnerability to getting seriously ill. Be sure to speak to your doctor about where you are going, the length of time for your stay, and your predominant activities like whether you will be in an urban area, outdoors sightseeing, or eating local cuisine. Below are some countries and what to be aware of.
In most parts of Africa, the concerns for disease are no more so than other countries where there is a risk of Hepatitis A and Typhoid due to contaminated food and water, Malaria if you are in a high mosquito area, and Yellow Fever. Not as common but a risk nonetheless are Polio, Hepatitis B, and Rabies. One thing to note is the "meningitis belt" located in the sub-Saharan area of Africa. There is a significant risk of meningococcal meningitis in this area, transmitted from person to person through respiratory secretions (coughing or sneezing) and saliva.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid are possible diseases that you may incur when visiting The Bahamas, depending on where you stay. The root cause is generally from contaminated water or food, especially in rural areas or if you plan to eat native foods.
In addition to your routine vaccinations, Hepatitis A and Typhoid are the most common concerns when visiting China. Additionally, Hepatitis B, Encephalitis and Malaria vaccinations may be considered depending on your travel plans. If you are planning to visit the Xinjiang province, the Polio vaccination is recommended, especially if you are doing any kind of humanitarian work.
Most of the European countries, which include the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway, have risks for Hepatitis A and B, as well as rabies. Speaking to your doctor will alleviate any concerns for potential health risks.
The most common afflictions when visiting India are Hepatitis A and Typhoid, most commonly associated with ingesting contaminated food or water. Other maladies may include Hepatitis B, Malaria, or Encephalitis. There is also a chance for rabies because of the wild dogs, bats or other mammals.
In addition to the possibility of food and water contamination that may afflict you with Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B or Typhoid, Malaria is common, especially in warm and moist climates where mosquitoes are prevalent.
Before visiting any of the countries in South America including Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Panama, you should speak to your doctor about your travel plans and intentions. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are most commonly associated with traveling in these areas. Additionally, Hepatitis B, Malaria, and rabies are a risk, as is Yellow Fever.
As with any travel outside of the United States, be sure to do your research. Speaking with your physician approximately four to six weeks prior to your trip is always recommended. Get your vaccinations and all medicines to assure yourself the best health during your travels, and prevent any unwanted disease from following you home.
Gary Steadman is the owner of Doctors Express Urgent Care in St. Petersburg, Florida. If you're leaving the country this year, remember to get your vaccinations. Find out more about Doctors Express available vaccines and titers today.© 2014 Gary Steadman
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