Traveling to an Exotic Destination this Summer?
While watching news channels, we always get carried away by beautiful ads of faraway destinations, crystal clear sea, beautiful beaches, untouched nature, jungles, old civilizations, mountains, exotic landscapes and stunning views.
From Dubai as a central location, it has become increasingly convenient for us to travel, and we all behave like children: looking forward to something new and unexplored, without thinking about the precautions we have to take before our trip.
Therefore in many cases travelers do not consider that there might be some serious health risks involved with international travel, and that there are vaccinations to prevent some diseases.
Many frequent health problems a person is faced with while traveling are not prevented by vaccines as there are many infectious diseases transmitted by insect bites for which adequate medical prevention has not been developed yet. On the other hand, there are infections transmitted through contaminated food and water, as well as infestations that can be prevented by vaccines.
When it comes to vaccine-preventable diseases, there is no single schedule for the administration of immunizing agents to travelers. Each schedule must be personalized according to the individual traveler’s immunization history, countries to be visited, type and duration of the travel, and the amount of time available before departure.
Vaccines are divided into three categories:
Routine vaccinations, like tetanus, polio, MMR, etc. are necessary for protection from diseases that are still common in many parts of the world even though they rarely occur in developed countries. The most common routine vaccines given before travel are boosters of diphtheria, tetanus and polio.
Recommended vaccinations are those which protect travelers from the illnesses present in other parts of the world, the most common ones being hepatitis A, B and Typhoid. Other recommended vaccinations for an international traveler are those against Meningitis, Rabies and Japanese encephalitis.
There is only one mandatory vaccination which is required by International Health Regulations and that is the one for yellow fever. Yellow fever is an acute febrile viral disease, which can, if severe, lead to multiple organ failure. It is transmitted via the bite of infected mosquito. Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for travel to certain countries of sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, and a traveler can be asked for a proof of vaccination especially if coming from one of the endemic countries. It is administered in one dose and valid for 10 years.
Ideally, one should schedule a visit with a doctor 4-5 months before travel since administration of some vaccines cannot be done at the same time, and if more than one dose is needed for full immunity it is usually spread over a period of time. Most vaccines take 10-14 days to trigger an immune response and it is never too late to receive vaccinations before travel. Prevention against malaria is important as well, and there is no vaccination against that disease. Malaria is caused by a parasite and transferred via the bite of an infected mosquito. It is prevented by avoiding mosquito bites and using insect repellent containing DEET, wearing long sleeves and trousers from dusk till dawn, sleeping under mosquito treated nets and by taking preventive antimalarial medications. The duration and dosage of antimalarial medications vary from drug to drug, but all of them have a few general rules: it has to be started before entering the endemic area, during the stay in that area and 1-4 weeks upon return, depending on the type of the drug used.
Vaccination against a disease doesn’t mean 100% protection. The most important rule one can have is to consume safe food and water, and be aware of changes in your body. Put your health first and happy traveling this summer. To make sure you are travel ready, contact Dubai London Clinic for you appointment on +971 4 344 6663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Article courtesy of Dr. Barbara Karin Vela, Dubai London Clinic