Cover Story - April 29, 2009

Tips for healthy travel

Dr. Susan Anderson of Woodside, a travel physician, recommends the following tips for people planning major trips.

• Do your homework. Check out the Centers for Disease Control Web site ( for recommendations about locations you will be visiting.

• Make an appointment with a travel specialist for a pre-travel consultation. Consider seeing a travel physician or nurse before traveling. ( Get prescriptions for medications you may need.

• Check your vaccination status. Make sure all your routine vaccinations are up to date. Check to see if any particular vaccinations are required and/or recommended based on your itinerary and/or activities. For example, certain areas require vaccinations for yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A, and typhoid. Vaccination for rabies may be called for where there is significant danger of animal bites.

• Wash your hands. Get a good supply of anti-bacterial hand gel, and use it frequently. Attach a supply to your belt or waist pouch.

• Watch what you eat and drink, and where you swim. Almost everyone gets traveler's diarrhea, so you need to be prepared. Wash your hands at every opportunity, and pack in your medical kit medications for diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

• While traveling, eat food that is freshly prepared and cooked; peel your own fruits; drink water that is boiled, bottled or carbonated; and avoid ice.

• Avoid insects. Use personal protection measures to prevent insect bites, including an insect repellant on your skin such as DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) in concentrations of 30 to 50 percent. If you are an "insect magnet" it is also important to use a permethin-containing product to treat your clothes, hats, bednets, camping or other gear to prevent insect bites. Depending on the product, it will last many washings. Obtain malaria chemoprophylaxis if indicated for travel to a particular areas. There are a number of options. It is important to talk to a clinician with some expertise in this area.

• Assemble a personal travel medicine kit. This should include prescriptions for medications for diarrhea, malaria, altitude sickness if indicated, and EpiPens for people with a history of allergic reactions. Over-the counter remedies should include sunscreen, cold remedies, pain medication (alcohol, aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen), anti-diarrhea medication such as loperamide; antibacterial and anti-fungal creams; hydrocortisone cream for itchy rash. Also bring first-aid remedies to treat wounds, such as bandages, Steri-Strips and Ace Wraps.

• Check your medical insurance coverage to find out what is covered during travel. Consider purchasing additional medical and evacuation insurance, if needed. The CDC and Department of State Web sites provide additional information.

• Post-travel illness. If you develop a fever or unusual symptoms after you return home, it is important to be evaluated by a physician, and review your travel history. Be alert to swine flu.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 10:48 pm

You and your readers may find this Citizens' Guide to be useful:

Web Link

alternate site:

Web Link

Note that the lead WHO infectious disease person, Dr. David Heymann, wrote the Foreword.

This publication is in the public domain and can be cited and used in whole or in part including illustrations. Feel free to print it, copy it and to provide it to others.

There are a lot of government plans for dealing with a pandemic but NONE of them tell you as an individual what you can do to take care of yourself and your family - this guide does.

Please pass this on to others.

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