There have been a number of recently
publicized cases where returning travelers to their home countries, including Canada, have come back and gotten
quite ill from diseases they have brought back with them.
A recent study states that many of these cases that developed
could have been prevented.
Some of those diseases that returned with the
travelers, such as malaria, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, along with typhoid
fever and tuberculosis could have been prevented by a simple visit to a travel
health professional.
Others could have been minimized by a visit
to a doctor when the first signs of any kind of usual or unusual symptoms of
illness were first felt after their return.
These cases are on an increase, not just
because of vacation travel, but in an increasingly mobile population commerce
is carried out in every corner of the world. Not your usual traveler adventure
seekers are increasingly looking far off the beaten path of normal vacation
destinations for satisfaction. It is therefore no wonder that contact with
communicable diseases is growing.
The study pointed out the fact that two
thirds of the patients in the study, which included over 4000 participants, did
not even try to consult a doctor for input before departing on their journeys.
The study underscored that even for the most
popular vacation destinations where we may take travel health safety for granted;
some measures of caution and protection are usually advised.
These include vacations in Cuba, the
Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico, where the greatest numbers of Canadians travel.
At least 20 percent
of returned travelers suffer some kind of illness or other.
Longtime immigrants to Canada often feel,
because of their history and culture relating to the country from which they
came, that they don’t need to take the same pre-travel health precautions. They
believe because they once lived in the country, they are immune to diseases
that the rest of the populations of visitors are susceptible to catch.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The facts are that those travelers who went
back to visit friends and relatives require medical treatment in double the
numbers of all returned travelers. And worst of all, this group also were in
the lowest percentage of all those who chose to meet with a professional for
pre-travel consultation.
The immunity that they may have had when
living in the country is eroded more quickly than most expect when they start
living under the standards in a health developed environment of Canada or the
United States.
While pre-travel consultations are very
important there are other actions travelers should undertake when they are visiting
any country where health standards are not up to those here in  Canada.
If you are already under medication for
medical issues you have had, the most obvious of recommendations is to be sure
to check with your own physician before you even consider booking a trip to be satisfied
he or she supports that decision.
Carry more medication than you will need, and
whenever possible keep them in the original containers. Never store medications
in your checked baggage.
Stay away from fruits that don’t need peeling
and never eat raw meat, fish, or shellfish in countries or resorts where you
are not sure of their storage and usage policies.
While it really is exciting to want to try
foods sold by street vendors, safety first would suggest you avoid the desire
to do so. It may seem like you are experiencing local life better when you do,
but your innards may balk at the intrusion.
Stick to commercially bottled water, soft
drinks, and fruit juices over tap water. There is a number of water purifying
tablets and liquids that can be purchased as well.
If you are travelling to a region where
mosquitoes are prevalent be sure to take along insect repellent containing the
largest amount of DEET you can find. The higher the concentration the longer
the product will protect you. A repellent with 30% DEET should provide
protection for about 6 hours.
Even during hot evenings long sleeves and
long pants and socks are advised. Light coloured clothing attracts fewer bugs.
For traveler’s diarrhea treatment and
prevention, there are some over the counter products that can be taken to
prevent or alleviate at least some of the symptoms.
To repeat my on-going precautions in this
area always check and double check your travel health insurance policies to
know inclusions and exclusions beforehand.
In Winnipeg you can book your pre-travel health visit with the Journeys Travel Clinic by calling 204 982-9489. Other places in Canada can be found at
For safety and other prevention and comfort travel accessory products visit  on line. You will find just about everything you need to travel anywhere in the world on that site.