Pre-travel medical consultation will review many aspects of your trip– your destination, itinerary, medical history, immunization history and other details. The best time to be seen is 6 weeks before departure to maximize benefit of immunizations and other preventive measures.
Did you know that the most common vaccine-preventable illnesses in international travelers are hepatitis A (awful diarrhea) and influenza (fever and cough). Malaria prophylaxis is offered to travelers to endemic regions. It is also beneficial for the traveler to use personal protection measures such as applying permethrin to clothing, using permethrin-impregnated bed net and effective insect repellant. The most effective insect repellents contain 20 to 50% DEET or 20% picaridin.
What should you expect at your visit? Your physician will review your medical history including immunization records, medications, allergies, and medical conditions.
The physician will discuss your destination, administer appropriate travel-specific vaccines (like typhoid fever, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and cholera), give you a prescription for antibiotics (or Imodium) to take in case you come down with traveler’s diarrhea.
A few more pearls about traveler’s diarrhea…
- taking medications that reduce gastric acidity (like proton pump inhibitors or antacids) significantly increases the risk of traveler’s diarrhea.
- It has been shown that traditional advice, like avoiding food from street vendors and tap water and ice has NOT been shown to reduce the incidence of traveler’s diarrhea.
- Conversely, hand washing DOES reduce the risk by 30% and alcohol-based hand sanitizers also significantly reduce the risk of traveler’s diarrhea.
- Taking Pepto-Bismol two tablets four times a day for the entire trip reduces the risk by 50%.
Other discussion topics are travel-specific risks such as altitude sickness, safe sex practices (think Zika virus, STDs and HIV transmission) and emergency medical evacuation insurance.
Pregnant? Most airlines will let you travel until 36 weeks gestation.
Want more information? https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list