Health Considerations - The Healthy, Happy Traveler
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Travel Vaccinations Several vaccines have become available in the last five years for people traveling to less developed countries and who may be at risk for getting hepatitis A or typhoid if they eat or drink contaminated food or water.
A vaccine against hepatitis A is replacing gamma globulin, which was formerly injected a few days before departing on a trip and would only be effective for three to five months. The new vaccine, given as a series of two injections six to 12 months apart, offers protection for 15 to 20 years.
The decades-old typhoid vaccine that caused fever, body aches and pain at the injection site has been replaced by an oral typhoid vaccine (four capsules taken over a week) or a new injectable form. Typhoid fever - a virulent salmonella infection - remains prevalent in many developing countries.
Like hepatitis A and typhoid, people acquire cholera via contaminated food and water, but the incidence of cholera is low - fewer than one in 100,000 travelers come down with it. The cholera vaccine currently licensed in the United States is ineffective; an oral replacement available in Europe and Canada is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.
Until it is approved, avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood and shellfish, particularly in areas of the world where sewage and sea water intermix.
The oft-repeated saying "boil it, peel it, or don't eat it" still holds true when traveling in less developed countries. Some additional safety tips:
if possible, stick to well-cooked and freshly prepared foods;
avoid salads and ice cubes;
use only pasteurized dairy products;
pass up anything containing custard, cream pastry, or mayonnaise, since all are ideal growth media for disease-causing bacteria.
These numbers provide current health and safety advisories for both domestic and international destinations.
International Association For Medical Assistance To Travellers (Iamat) Advises travelers on climate, food, water, and diseases abroad, and, in emergencies, can give information on local doctors over the phone, (716) 754-4883
Moss Rehabilitation Hospital Travel Information Service Suggests resources to help travelers with disabilities, (215) 456-9600
State Department Office Of Overseas Citizens Services Travelers' Hotline, for accessing health and security advisories and consular information sheets for individual countries around the globe, and for reporting emergencies involving U.S. citizens abroad, (202) 647-5225; fax (202)-647-3000;
Department Of Transportation International Travel Advisory, for information regarding airport security concerns around the globe, 202-366-2220