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FOX Medical Team

Protect Yourself From Sickness on Vacation

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

When it comes to travel, Carlos Felfoldi has been there, done that, and he's got the photos to prove it. He says, “My last trip was to Bhutan, in the Himalayas.”

Now, before the 35 year old heads to Peru, he's come to see Highland Travel Medicine's Dr. Nicholas Beaulieu to talk about what to expect where he's going, and what vaccinations he needs.

Because Carlos knows what it's like to get ill on vacation. He says, “I got very sick in Uruguay one time. I was on bed rest for 3 or 4 days."

If you’re planning a big trip, a few weeks before you take off, see your doctor or health department to make sure you're up-to-date on vaccinations and understand the main health concerns in your destination.

In Europe, Dr. Beaulieu says Measles is making a comeback. In the Tropics, mosquito-borne viruses like Malaria, dengue fever and Chikungunya and can make you very sick.

Beaulieu says, "If you look at the Caribbean, Mexico, a lot of the travel we're going to do, as North Americans, looking for good beaches, you're going to want to worry about Hepatitis A and typhoid, present in a lot of those places. Those are vaccine-preventable diseases."

When you pack for your trip, put your prescriptions in your carry-on bag, in the original packaging in case your questioned about it.

And create a travel kit with medication for:

  • diarrhea
  • allergy/flu/colds
  • sleep problems
  • nausea/motion sickness

Once you get where you're going, Dr. Beaulieu says think before you eat. He says, “The most common thing is people make mistakes with food indiscretions. They probably eat something that is going to give them trouble later on."

Like raw fish, uncooked vegetables, street food. Beaulieu says, “Don't eat the street vendor food. It's more suspect than anything. The local population has a series of bacteria in their body that you don't have. It's not that it's some horrific, invasive pathogen. But it's just something your body is not used to, and if that happens, a lot of time your colon will go on strike. And, f it does, you will have diarrhea."

And be really careful about drinking the water, and ice! If you’re not certain it’s safe to drink, don’t drink it. Dr. Beaulieu says

“A lot of people will go through the trouble of bottled water and then have ice and ice is frozen infection that unthaws in your body. So you want to avoid ice as well." You may even want to avoid brushing your teeth with tap water, and use bottled instead.

If you’re headed out of the country, the CDC says you may want to invest in traveler’s health insurance that would pay for the cost of visiting a local doctor or hospital, should you become ill. And you may want to also think about buying medical evacuation coverage in the event of a medical emergency. It would cover much of the cost to bring you back home, should you become too ill or injured to continue your vacation.

Finally, if a cruise is in the cards, norovirus outbreaks can be a problem. Wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching common surfaces and then touching your face.

For more information on staying healthy on your Summer vacation, visit http://www.cdc.gov/travel/

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