Health Travelers

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Healthy Traveler
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Quest Specialty Travel ● Health Information for Travelers ● Spring 2013

Health Risks and Precautions for International Travelers

General Considerations
The number of people traveling internationally increases every year. International tourist arrivals in the year 2010 reached 1 billion, with arrivals expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2020. Over half the arrivals were for leisure and holidays, with business, religious pilgrimages, and family visits cited as other major reasons people travel. International travel can pose serious health risks to travelers, depending on the destination country, the nature and characteristics of the trip, and the traveler’s physical condition and overall health. Travelers might be exposed to sudden and significant changes in altitude, humidity, microbes, and temperature. Also, serious health risks can arise in areas where clean water is unavailable, sanitation and hygiene are inadequate, and medical services are not well-developed. All people planning travel should know about the potential hazards of the countries they are traveling to and learn how to minimize their risk of acquiring these diseases. Forward planning, appropriate preventive measures, and careful precautions can substantially reduce the risks of adverse health consequences. The medical profession and the travel industry are an important source of help and advice for travelers, but it is the responsibility of the traveler to seek out information on travel-related risks, understand the factors involved, and take the necessary precautions. Travel-related Risks

The key factors in determining the risks to which travelers may be exposed are: * mode of transportation
* destination
* purpose, duration, and season of travel
* standards of accommodation and food hygiene
* behavior of the traveler
* health of the traveler
Destinations where accommodation, hygiene, sanitation, medical care, and water quality are of a high standard pose relatively few serious risks for the health of travelers, unless there is pre-existing illness. This also applies to travelers visiting most major cities and tourist centers and staying in quality accommodations, such as a conference center or a resort. In contrast, destinations where accommodation is of poor quality, hygiene and sanitation are inadequate, medical services do not exist, and clean water is unavailable may pose serious risks for the health of travelers. Exposure to insects, infectious agents, and contaminated food and water, makes travel in many remote regions particularly hazardous. Tourists who venture into remote areas should take stringent precautions to avoid illness, including receiving vaccinations and taking antimalarial medications. The purpose, season, and duration of the visit, the mode of transportation, and the behavior and lifestyle of the traveler are also important in determining the likelihood of exposure to infectious agents. The overall health of the traveler is also a critical consideration. Medical Consultation Before Travel

Travelers intending to visit a destination in a developing country should consult a travel medicine clinic or a physician at least 4-8 weeks before the journey, and preferably earlier for long-term travel or travel to remote areas. Last minute travelers should also consult a clinic or physician. A medical consultation is needed to determine the need for vaccinations and antimalarial medication, as well as any other medication the traveler may require. Medical advisors base their recommendations on an assessment of risk for the individual traveler as well as any associated public health. Malaria: A Serious Health Risk for Travelers

Each year an estimated 8 million North Americans travel to countries where malaria is common. Transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, malaria is a serious and potentially fatal infectious disease that is...
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