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Traveler's Aid: Travel Health with Dr. Dirk Schroeder (8/9/02)

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Host Diana Nyad talks with Dr. Dirk Schroeder about what you can do when serious medical problems occur while traveling. How do you go about seeking medical help in places where you don't know the language, and where the quality of care is circumspect? How do you find a good hospital? And, what's in a basic traveler's first aid kit?

Dr. Schroeder, a physician, professor of international health at Emory University, and author of "Staying Healthy in Asia, Africa and Latin America," also has some tips on how you can remain healthy as a horse while traveling in countries around the globe.

"Staying Healthy while Traveling"

Before you go:

  • Itinerary: Plan your trip carefully at least 8 weeks before departure
  • Medical facilities in country: Know how you will locate medical facilities in the countries you will be going to
  • Visit the Doctor: Visit your healthcare provider 4-6 weeks before departure to get:
    • Malaria pills (if necessary)
    • Vaccinations (if necessary)
    • Booster shots (e.g. tetanus)
    • A physical - know that you are healthy when you begin travel
  • Health Insurance - check what yours covers. Perhaps, buy travel insurance
  • Medical Kit - Prepare a first-aid kit

What to Bring:

The Essentials

  • Medical card with your blood type - (preferably in local languages)
  • Emergency numbers and contacts
  • Malaria pills
  • Insect Repellent - 30-35% DEET
  • Antibiotic cream - Neosporin
  • Diarrheal medications

What people usually forget

  • Long pants and shirt to prevent mosquito bites
  • Extra pair of glasses / contact lenses
  • Ample supply of personal medications
  • Anti-contraceptives

Longer Trips Off the Beaten Path

  • Antibiotics
  • Strong pain medication (e.g. codeine)
  • Ace Bandage and gauze (to stop bleeding)

Some of the Most Important Precautions While Traveling

  • Wash hands often with soap and water
  • Be aware that motor vehicles are a leading cause of injury and death among travelers:
    • Drive and walk defensively
    • Use seat belts
    • Avoid travel at night
  • Don't share needles with anyone
  • Don't handle animals
  • Avoid getting a blood transfusion (by traveling cautiously)

Eating and Drinking

  • Drink bottled or boiled water
  • Use water filter AND iodine tablets if you must drink treated water
  • Don't eat or drink unpasteurized dairy products
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food, especially meat, eggs and shellfish
  • Peel fruits yourself.
  • Only eat cooked vegetables.
  • Don't eat food bought from street vendors
  • Don't consume drinks with ice

Savvy Resources:

"Staying Healthy in Asia, Africa and Latin America," by with Dr. Dirk Schroeder.

For info. on outbreaks, diseases, vaccinations, and avoiding illness, as well as advice for people traveling with children and those will special needs (e.g. disabilities, pregnant women, HIV-positive): visit Centers for Disease Control; http://www.cdc.gov/travel

If you'd like us to address your travel questions or concerns, send us an email. Or call us at 888-SAV-TRAV.

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