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Summer Travel Abroad

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   (CDC)

May 29, 2019

Escaping to an overseas retreat this summer? It’s the time of year when people start planning their summer vacation. If you venture abroad for some summer fun, there are health and safety risks you should be aware of. No matter where you go—majestic mountains, secluded beaches, or bustling cities—kick off your travel adventure by getting prepared with our summer vacation tips.

Before You Trip

·         Check your destination for health concerns. Even if you’re familiar with the place, there may be new and important health risks you should be aware of.

·         Make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist or your healthcare provider to get important advice, vaccines, and medicine at least one monthbefore you leave.

o    CDC recommends all travelers be up to date on routine vaccines, including measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella (chickenpox), and your seasonal flu vaccine, which you should be able to get from your doctor.

·         Pack a travel health kit with your prescription and over-the-counter medicines (enough to last your whole trip, plus a little extra), first aid supplies, your health insurance card, and more.

·         Prepare for the unexpected.

·         Enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to get the latest safety updates and help in an emergency.

·         Leave copies of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home, in case you lose them during travel.

·         Find out if your health insurance covers medical care abroad—many plans don’t!

·         Consider buying additional insurance that covers health care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will be traveling to remote areas.

During Your Trip

·         Always wear seat belts and choose safe transportation. Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries.

o    Ride only in marked taxis or ride-sharing vehicles.

o    While walking, be alert when crossing the street, especially in countries where people drive on the left.

o    Avoid overcrowded, overweight, or top-heavy buses or vans.

·         Eat and drink safely. Contaminated food or drinks can cause travelers’ diarrhea, the most common travel-related illness, and other diseases. If you are traveling to a developing country, you are especially at risk.

o    When possible, choose food that is cooked and served hot, washed in safe water, or peeled.

o    Stick to drinks that are bottled and sealed, or very hot coffee or tea, and avoid ice.

·         Protect yourself from hot temperatures and sun exposure.

o    Wear SPF 15 or higher sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays when enjoying outdoor activities.

o    Follow the instructions on the label and reapply as directed.

·         Prevent insect bitesUsing insect repellent can protect you from serious diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and malaria.

o    Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.

o    Apply sunscreen first, then repellent.

o    Follow the instructions on the label and reapply as directed.

o    If you’re sleeping in a room without screens or air conditioning, or a tent- sleep underneath a mosquito net and make sure it’s tucked into your mattress.

·         Avoid AnimalsWe know that this advice is no fun- but any animal, even if it appears to be friendly or harmless, can be dangerous.

o    Never try to pet, handle or feed unfamiliar animals, even pets, as they may not be vaccinated against rabies.

o    If you are bitten or scratched, immediately wash the wound with plenty of soap and water and see a doctor as soon as possible!

After Your Trip

Some travel-related illnesses may not cause symptoms until after you get home. If you get sick after your trip, call your doctor and be sure to tell them about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. This will help your doctor consider infections that are rarely found in the United States.

·         If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, find a clinic here.

·         For more information, see Getting Sick after Travel.

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