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Infectious diseases A-Z: Traveling abroad? You may need to be vaccinated

June 26, 2017


If you are planning a trip abroad, you may need to make an appointment to see a medical provider along with making your travel plans.

"Anybody who’s going abroad, particularly to a developing part of the world, should be evaluated or contact a local travel clinic because there are many things that need to be considered in general but specifically for infectious disease prevention," says Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Stacey Rizza.

Depending on where you travel, you may be advised or required to be vaccinated against typhoid fever, yellow fever, hepatitis, among other infectious diseases.

"There also are what we call prophylaxis," says Rizza. "If somebody is going to an area that’s endemic for malaria, they should take medications to prophylax, or prevent them, from getting malaria while they’re traveling. There are other antibiotics that frequently their physician will recommend they bring along with them. In case they get sick while they’re there, they can start therapy immediately."

Are you traveling to these regions?

"For most areas of Central and South America you should at least your travel plans with a physician or a provider in the travel clinic," says Rizza. "For Africa, Southeast Asia, many parts of the Caribbean, and some parts of the South Pacific, it’s probably worth considering. Most of Western Europe, North America, Scandinavia, Australia are safe to travel to without having visited a travel clinic, but there are certain exceptions to that. If you’re going to an area in one of those places that has a particularly high incidence of certain infections, and you’re going to be in a very rural part for a long period of time, it’s worth visiting a travel clinic.

"Most infectious disease physicians, including myself, would advocate that, if somebody is going to travel, particularly to developing parts of the world, they should visit a travel clinic first; review their itinerary; review what they will be doing in those areas; and get the appropriate education, treatments, and appropriate vaccines before they leave."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides health travel notices, along with information on vaccines required for various destinations.

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McClatchy-Tribune Information Services