Are you planning on taking a trip this winter? Going someplace warm to sit on a beach while the folks at home in Vermont shovel snow, or maybe a safari or other adventure travel? How you plan for this trip may make a big difference in how much fun you have while you are there, and how healthy you are on your return.If you are traveling to a less developed region of the world there are simple steps you can take to stay healthy.
Food and Water Precautions
It is important to be aware of what you are eating and choose foods and drinks that are safe – well cooked food that is still hot, and only bottled, boiled or purified water. A lot of people get sick from ice cubes! You should use bottled water even to brush your teeth. Fruits are fine if they have a thick skin and you peel it yourself – oranges, bananas, pineapples, not apples, berries or cherries. Salads are really big bad guys, as they are not washed in pure water and not cooked. So if you are going to Mexico, salsa is not OK unless you know that the tomatoes and peppers were washed in pure water. The general rule for food is PEEL IT, COOK IT, OR FORGET IT.
For many trips it is important to get vaccinated against food borne illnesses such as Hepatitis A, polio, or typhoid before you go.
Watch out for Mosquitoes!
If you are going to jungles or other places where there are mosquitoes, you will need to protect yourself from mosquito borne illnesses such as Malaria, Yellow Fever or Dengue. The first step is a good mosquito repellent. We suggest something with at least 30% DEET in the ingredients. It does not have to be fancy or expensive, but it does have to have DEET. Some mosquitoes like to feed at during the day and some in the evening. So, whenever you are outside you need use mosquito repellent. For many trips it is important to have bed nets where you are sleeping. Some safaris and other tours provide the bed nets; for more independent or adventure travel, you may have to bring your own.
If you are going somewhere with lots of mosquitoes, it is important to get medications to prevent malaria, and to get the Yellow Fever vaccine.
We’re Here to Help
The UVM Medical Center Travel Health Service can help you with your pre-travel planning. We will provide you with the medications and immunization you need to remain healthy and have the vacation you deserve. Please call us at 847-4594 for an appointment. Some medications and vaccines need to be taken several weeks before leaving on your trip – so please call us when you make your plans.
Deborah L. Kutzko, A.P.R.N is an infectious disease nurse practitioner at the UVM Medical Center.