6 Health Considerations for International Travelers



Every year, over 900 million people travel all over the globe. Travelers make journeys in and outside their countries, over borders and seas. These travelers are exposed to risks as they move from one region to another. Proper precautions are thus recommended to ensure that sickness is kept at bay. People pay a lot of attention to travel security and the same seriousness should be considered in relation to health. We have compiled a six point list for any prospective or seasoned traveler to observe before travel.


CDC website will provide you with information about the country you plan to visit. It will give you information on the most common infections in your destination. The vaccinations needed to enter that country will also be listed. It will also list other potential illnesses or hazards in that region. A review of World Health Organization Website will also broaden your knowledge on destination related health concerns. Some destinations might require an immigration physical to be done.


In many areas globally, especially the tropics, mosquitoes are a menace and have caused the deaths of millions of people. These small annoying insects have caused diseases ranging from malaria to dengue fever. Chikungunya and elephantiasis are also associated with mosquitoes. Recently, Zika virus which causes birth defect known as microcephaly has hit the globe courtesy of this insect. It is worse as Zika can be sexually transmitted. CDC recommends repellents containing DEET percentage ranging from 20-50 percent. They also recommend more than one application if the repellant has picaridin as the active ingredient.


Regarding trips to less visited countries, travel-medicine consultants or specialists will greatly help you. They are ahead of the normal doctors in information relating to travel and even emerging information that normal Doctors may not be having within their radar. It is advised to get vaccines inoculated at least six weeks before travel. Some might need more than one dose and possible side effects might need to be monitored. In cases requiring immigration physical to be done, then get a licensed practitioner to carry out the procedure.


Contaminated food and drinks cause millions of serious infection all over the world each year. Hepatitis, gastroenteritis and diarrheal diseases are some of these infections. You should make sure that food sold in streets or open places is fresh. Food served in buffets where it might have stayed for long should be avoided. Bottled water is recommended for drinking and brushing your teeth, especially in developing countries. If in doubt of the water quality, do not open your mouth in the shower. Never eat food that you doubt. Avoid pre-peeled fruits. When in doubt of any food, just cook or boil it.


Health insurance is a must for travelers going abroad. Confirm whether your current policy will cater for any needs while in a foreign destination. In case this is not possible, consider buying a supplementary insurance policy to take care of any emerging health needs. An evacuation insurance coverage might be a wise investment, especially if your travel region does not have a robust health care system. Despite possessing a valid insurance policy, some foreign countries might ask you to pay health care costs up front and seek reimbursement from your insurer. If an immigration physical was done and possible health issues identified, then find out where these services can be accessed within your destination in case a need for them arises.


Hand washing is the most basic, cheapest and most effective way to prevent the transfer of infections. This is practiced not only on arrival at your destination but also during your travel. Ensure you travel with antibacterial wipes to swab surfaces where bacteria could be present. It is not recommended to use masks or immune boosters as they have not been scientifically proved to help. Masks are however a must use in areas with air borne infections e.g Ebola. Do not eat before you hand wash to your satisfaction. Use hand wipes where hand washing facilities are not present.

Conclusion Traveling is a thrilling experience that we all look forward to. However, precautions relating to health needs to be taken in advance as mistakes can completely ruin the experience.

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