Going Somewhere? Not So Fast
Before you hit the road, make one more trip.
Book of key translations?
U.S. Embassy address/phone number?
(Wait . . . what?!)
In the weeks and months that precede an exotic vacation, travelers can become so muddled in itineraries and packing lists that they neglect one of the most basic priorities: preventive health-care.
Americans often take our country's sophisticated health-care system for granted when we travel to less-developed areas. After all, we don't have to worry about such diseases as cholera, typhoid fever, malaria, and dozens of others. But every traveler should visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site (www.cdc.gov) to check on any intended destination outside the continental United States. This site, made possible by the Department of Health and Human Services, constantly updates the roster of health concerns all over the world.
Michelle McGuire, a registered medical assistant at The Shot Nurse, a local medical facility which offers assorted immunizations and information, first consults the CDC's Web site for the most up-to-date information on a particular country or region. Next, she tells her patients which immunizations are required, and which are strongly suggested. Appointments for travel medicine should be made four to six weeks prior to your departure date, as many vaccinations require several weeks to become fully active in your body. Furthermore, some vaccinations, such as hepatitis A and hepatitis B, are administered in a series -- which involves several visits to a doctor's office to get the full dose.
To go to east Africa, for example, a patient would want to be covered for a range of diseases: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, malaria, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), tetanus/diphtheria, polio, and meningococcal (meningitis). Federal law requires the patient be vaccinated for yellow fever. If the traveler is going to be in the presence of wild animals in a location that is removed from any medical attention -- such as an African safari -- they would also be advised to get a rabies vaccination.
The prices of different vaccines vary, but expect to pay at least $75 per dose (two are needed) of hepatitis A, $65 per dose (three are needed) of hepatitis B, $70 per injected or $60 per oral dose of typhoid, $90 for yellow fever, $60 for MMR, $30 per dose of tetanus/diphtheria, $120 for meningococcal, and $360 per dose of Japanese encephalitis. In other words, an important part of your travel budget should include vaccinations.
Travel is an excellent way to broaden your scope on the world and even to gain new respect for your home country. But without taking the proper medical precautions before leaving, what began as a journey of exploration can become a nightmare of disease. And thankfully, one that is totally preventable. M
The sniffling man seated in the row behind you has just let out a giant sneeze -- failing to cover his mouth. Congrats. Your flight is now a germ incubator.
Which is why Victoria Knight-McDowell, an elementary school teacher in Carmel, California, created Airborne -- a combo of vitamins C, E, and A, with zinc, selenium, and herbs to fight off germs.
So, does this stuff really work?
Dr. Tracey Peters -- a general practitioner in the Memphis area -- has this to say: "I think there's definitely something to it [Airborne], but medically speaking, it's hard to pinpoint. Especially during cold and flu season, there certainly would be no harm in getting a good dose of these vitamins. But as to whether or not Airborne is a cure for these common illnesses, that's unlikely."
Given the recent success of Airborne (it was picked up by Wal-Mart and Rite Aid in 1999), it's safe to say that some people are buying the promise, and the product.
So, should you fork over $9 for a bottle of the stuff? Well, like the doc said, it certainly can't hurt. At the end of the day, you just have to ask if your health is worth a $9 gamble. Mine is.