Traveling Abroad

Immunization Information for International Travelers

Your risk of acquiring an illness during international travel depends on the area(s) you're planning to visit. In addition, your current state of health also determines your risk of acquiring illness during international travel. This is especially true if your trip includes "high risk destinations."

Diseases of concern to U.S. travelers abroad include:

  • measles
  • poliomyelitis
  • typhoid fever
  • yellow fever
  • viral hepatitis
  • malaria
  • cholera

You need to seek medical advice at least six weeks prior to your departure. Before visiting your healthcare provider, plan your itinerary and note the sequence of destinations you will be visiting and the length of time you will stay in each destination.

If you don't have a history of adequate vaccinations, you should get your immunzations updated based on your age whether or not you plan to travel outside the U.S.

Tips on How to Avoid Infection When Traveling Abroad

Water Treatment

  • Boil water for 40 minutes.
  • Chemically treat water with chlorine or iodine (preferred) tablets.
  • Use portable water filters.
  • Avoid ice; it may be made with contaminated water.
  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth.

Food

  • Avoid raw food such as
    • uncooked vegetables and fruit
    • salads
    • unpasteurized milk and milk products such as cheese
    • raw meat
    • shellfish
  • Fruit is generally safe if you can peel it yourself.
  • Fish, although thoroughly cooked, may still contain natural toxins.

Swimming

  • Generally, only pools with chlorinated water can be considered safe.
  • Wading or swimming in freshwater streams, canals, and lakes should be avoided.

Diarrhea

  • Pay close attention to the food and water you consume, particlarly from street vendors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially fruit juices and non–caffeinated soft drinks.
  • Seek medical attention if diarrhea symptoms are seen in infants and children.
  • If bloody diarrhea, dehydration, fever above 102 degrees, or persistant vomiting occurs, seek immediate medical attention.

Prescription Medication

  • Bring an adequate supply of routine prescription medication with you.
  • Carry a card, tag, or bracelet to identify any physical conditions that would be important to consider in the case of a medical emergency.
  • Carry a card showing all prescriptions and their dosages.
  • Have a signed and dated statement from your physician who is familiar with your major health problems.

Insect–Related Issues

  • Avoid travel during seasons or times of day when insect activity is increased (think mosquitos).
  • Wear long–sleeve shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Apply repellants to skin, clothing, and shoes.
  • Seek medical attention if an insect bite or sting causes excessive redness, swelling, bruising, or persistent pain.

Environmental Issues

You may experience stresses that are associated with travel which may reduce your resistance to disease.

  • Excessive heat and humidity and strenuous excercise
  • Ultraviolet rays of the sun
  • Excessive cold
  • Change in altitude

 

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