Back to Top Skip to main content

Preparing for travel can prevent illness

Experts encourage overseas travelers to seek advice from a health care provider before leaving on a trip, and to make sure recommended vaccinations are up to date (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley) Experts encourage overseas travelers to seek advice from a health care provider before leaving on a trip, and to make sure recommended vaccinations are up to date (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health | Immunizations | Summer Safety

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Whether snorkeling, hiking, or exploring a new place, travelers should know how to stay safe and healthy while away from home. Properly preparing for a trip can help reduce health risks.

“One might argue that the only thing worse than getting sick is getting sick when away from home,” said Dr. Margaret Ryan, a preventive medicine physician and director of Immunization Health Branch's Pacific Region vaccine safety hub at Naval Medical Center San Diego. “Travelers are wise to take any precautions that are available to avoid infectious disease hazards.”

Ryan recommends travelers be proactive about their travel medicine needs and prepare for their trip in advance. This includes learning about the health risks associated with the destination and checking with their doctor to make sure they’re in good health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seeing a provider four to six weeks before departure.

It’s important for travelers to have recommended vaccinations, including flu shots, before leaving home, said Ryan. According to the CDC, people traveling to countries in the Southern Hemisphere – such as Australia – between June and October should get the flu vaccine since flu activity would be at its peak.

Some vaccines, such as typhoid and hepatitis A, are recommended for travel in general, while others may be required by certain countries before someone is allowed to enter or exit, Ryan noted. For example, the yellow fever vaccine is needed to enter some African countries, and the polio vaccine is required before you depart some countries that have had cases of that disease, she said.

“Risk for exposure to measles, mumps, and rubella outside of the United States can be high, putting travelers without these vaccinations at increased risk, especially in countries with low vaccination rates and recurring regional outbreaks,” said Ryan. International travelers can transport the measles virus, causing infections and possibly triggering outbreaks, even in countries with high vaccination rates, she added.

Ryan also recommends that travelers take precautions with food and water, and take steps to prevent mosquito and insect bites. Using insect repellent and wearing proper clothing in areas with a high risk for mosquito-borne illnesses can reduce the risk of infection. Washing hands often with soap and water is another precautionary measure. The CDC also recommends travelers be aware of food precautions and drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled.

Because such things as scuba diving and visiting high altitudes can affect a traveler’s health and medication needs, Laurie Duran, a nurse practitioner at Naval Medical Center San Diego, recommends that during their pre-travel doctor’s appointment, travelers provide itinerary details, including destinations, anticipated activities, travel dates, accommodations, and mode of travel.

“It is helpful for [health care] providers to have visibility of travelers’ medical history, including their underlying conditions, allergies, and medications, as well as complete immunization records,” added Duran. Special situations such as pregnancy and breast-feeding, immunocompromising conditions or medications, and disabilities can impact travel, she noted.

The CDC’s survival guide for travelers provides health and safety tips, global health notices, and information on specific diseases to watch out for. Planning ahead for illnesses or injuries during the trip, understanding the signs of illness, and knowing what resources are available can help travelers properly prepare. It’s also important to know what your health plan covers when traveling internationally. The TRICARE website has information about international coverage, including what beneficiaries should know before traveling. Additionally, beneficiaries can find information about the MHS Nurse Advice Line, a free, 24/7 phone service, on the MHS NAL website.

“Travel Medicine is actually a complex specialty,” said Ryan. “Travelers are wise to seek advice from an experienced travel medicine provider to discuss all preventive measures before embarking on their trip.”

You also may be interested in...

Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Video
9/30/2019
Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Measles can be life-threatening, especially for children and among people who have a compromised immune system.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Video
9/23/2019
Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Hand washing alone will not prevent the spread of measles. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Video
9/17/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Vaccine components have been rigorously tested for safety. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Video
9/12/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Vaccines that prevent measles do not cause autism. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella | Autism Care Demonstration

Prevent to Protect: Analia

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Analia

Cancer left 5-year-old Analia Pages unable to get vaccinated. Her father, Master Sgt. Edward Pages, has to take extra steps to protect her from diseases she’s susceptible to.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

10-year-old Tatiana Rosario has a weakened immune system as a result of her cancer treatment. Growing up, she and her family made sacrifices to keep her safe from disease.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Immunization Awareness

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Immunization Awareness

Getting vaccinated not only protects yourself and your family from deadly diseases, but it also saves the lives to those who don’t have the immune system to fend for themselves. The Military Health System shares the stories of families with children who are at risk when others aren’t immunized.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Barbara and Floriann

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Barbara and Floriann

Barbara’s son Floriann grew up with an immune dysregulation. A Uniformed Services University pathology professor, she’s experienced first hand the importance of vaccines.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

MHS Minute September 2018

Video
9/21/2018
MHS Minute September 2018

Interested in hearing about some exciting events that took place around the Military Health System last month? Tune in to the MHS Minute to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Patriot Warrior 2017 - Moulage

Video
10/5/2017
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rose Jane Schoenwandt, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California, and Staff Sgt. Caleb Boles, 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, discuss the importance of moulage during Patriot Warrior.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rose Jane Schoenwandt, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California, and Staff Sgt. Caleb Boles, 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, discuss the importance of moulage during Patriot Warrior.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

USNS Mercy: Deployable Medical Center

Video
4/11/2017
U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners explain the mission of the USNS Mercy and its capabilities.

U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners explain the mission of the USNS Mercy and its capabilities.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Access to Health Care

Trauma Innovations

Video
3/23/2017
Hemorrhage is responsible for 91.5 percent of potentially survivable battlefield deaths. From 2001 to 2011, an estimated 24 percent of combat deaths occurred before patients reached a treatment facility; the major cause of death was blood loss. Battlefield trauma innovations like the occlusion balloon catheter and freeze-dried plasma will enhance the Joint Forces' current capabilities.

Hemorrhage is responsible for 91.5 percent of potentially survivable battlefield deaths. From 2001 to 2011, an estimated 24 percent of combat deaths occurred before patients reached a treatment facility; the major cause of death was blood loss. Battlefield trauma innovations like the occlusion balloon catheter and freeze-dried plasma will enhance the Joint Forces' current capabilities.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Air Force Nurse Key Asset to Army Medevac

Video
3/22/2017
U.S. Air Force Maj. Sandra Nestor, tactical critical care evacuation team nurse, is assigned to the 3rd Platoon, C Company, 2-149 General Support Aviation Battalion Medevac. Medevac teams specialize in moving and treating U.S. and coalition forces who are injured and risk dying without immediate emergency care.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Sandra Nestor, tactical critical care evacuation team nurse, is assigned to the 3rd Platoon, C Company, 2-149 General Support Aviation Battalion Medevac. Medevac teams specialize in moving and treating U.S. and coalition forces who are injured and risk dying without immediate emergency care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise

Video
3/7/2017
The Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) team is comprised of 26 U.S. military personnel and several host nation physicians who have partnered together to train medical teams in preparation for deployment. During the MEDRETE, the teams are able to improve the eyesight of more than 250 Panamanian patients during the two-week training exercise. The goal is to provide medical care that benefits the people of Panama, while building relationships with the accompanying Panamanian medical professionals.

The Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) team is comprised of 26 U.S. military personnel and several host nation physicians who have partnered together to train medical teams in preparation for deployment. During the MEDRETE, the teams are able to improve the eyesight of more than 250 Panamanian patients during the two-week training exercise. The goal is to provide medical care that benefits the people of Panama, while building relationships with the accompanying Panamanian medical professionals.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Vision Loss

Exercise Immediate Response 16

Video
1/13/2017
Soldiers and Airmen practice combat trauma care with allied and partner nation medical service members at Cerklje ob Krki, Slovenia, as part of exercise Immediate Response.

Soldiers and Airmen practice combat trauma care with allied and partner nation medical service members at Cerklje ob Krki, Slovenia, as part of exercise Immediate Response.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Global Health Engagement
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.