Preparing for Travel Abroad
Last updated: Jul 01, 2011, 06:00 AM
By Joy Pierce Mathews for Summit Medical Group
If you’re planning to travel outside the United States this summer, a travel medicine specialist can give you important information to help you protect your health. In addition to giving you protective shots (travel vaccinations) and preventive medicines, your doctor can make recommendations based on your age, medical history, overall health, destinations, and activities and length of your trip. He or she also will tell you about health risks in certain countries and explain how you can help protect yourself from them.
Summit Medical Group infectious diseases expert Lawrence Nastro, MD, recommends seeing a travel medicine specialist 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. "If you haven’t already scheduled an appointment for your summer travels," says Dr. Nastro, "it’s not too late to do so now!" He adds,"Be sure to tell your doctor if you've been sick recently. Don't forget to discuss all your allergies, medications, and health concerns during your visit."
"Getting vaccinated and taking certain medications can help prevent you from getting sick when you travel," notes Dr. Nastro; "but you can keep from getting many diseases by carefully washing your hands with soap and clean water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner before you prepare and eat food."
At Summit Medical Group Travel Medicine and Infectious Diseases, we recommend following safe food and water practices, including:
- Eating packaged and freshly cooked, hot foods
- Avoiding raw and undercooked meats and seafood, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, and food from street vendors
- Avoiding tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes
Drinking, brushing teeth, washing dishes, preparing food, and making ice only with bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water
and bottled/canned carbonated beverages with an unbroken seal
Boiling water for 1 minute or filtering it and adding 2 drops of household bleach or half an iodine tablet per liter
(about 33 ounces or four 8-oz glasses)
To protect yourself from insect bites:
- Use bug spray that contains either DEET (30% to 33%), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus/PMD, or IR3535
- Follow all label instructions, including reapplying DEET as instructed to lengthen your protection
- Wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat when you’re outdoors
- Spray your clothing with a mixture containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent;
- Stay in a screened area or use insect repellent frequently, especially at dusk and dawn when many bugs are out
- Sleep under a net sprayed with permethrin
- Spray rooms with products containing pyrethrin to help eliminate flying insects
Although bug sprays with a higher concentration of active ingredient protect longer against mosquito bites, concentrations higher than 50% cannot protect you for longer periods. Products with less than 10% of an active ingredient may only protect you for 2 hours or less.
For more information or to schedule an appointment,
please call Summit Medical Group Travel Medicine and Infectious Diseases
For advice on children aged 12 years and younger,
please contact Summit Medical Group Pediatrics at 908-273-4300 for an appointment.