New service eases medical preparations for travel

August 5, 2011 Editorial Staff
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Getting sick during a vacation can do more than spoil a trip. Itcan also lead to long-term negative health consequences. Diseasesthat have been eradicated in the United States are still active incertain countries, and the water supply is not always safe fordrinking.

Fortunately, people can protect themselves against illness whenthey travel. The Maimonides Travel Medicine Service – which isoverseen and staffed entirely by infectious disease physicians -offers comprehensive pre-trip medical care, reducing the likelihoodthat serious illness will occur while abroad.

Among the services offered are:

• Pre-travel examinations. Travelers who want a clean bill ofhealth before their trip can

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come in for a physical exam.

• Immunizations. Patients receive all necessary vaccines,including tetanus, hepatitis A, yellow fever, polio and typhoid.Vaccination certificates are available if the patient is travelingto a country that requires them.

• Country-specific medical information. All patients receive apackage of relevant health advice for their destination -everything from information on outbreaks of concern tointernational travelers, to how to avoid illness from food orwater. The Maimonides Travel Medicine staff also can address anyquestions or concerns patients may have about their journey.

• Post-trip care. In the event that someone does become sickduring a trip, Maimonides infectious disease specialists candiagnose and treat all types of illnesses that are commonabroad.

Whether you’re on vacation or traveling for business, it isimportant to take the appropriate health precautions before leavingthe country, says Dr. Edward Chapnick, director of the TravelMedicine Service and the Division of Infectious Diseases atMaimonides.

For instance, malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes,remains a threat in Africa, certain parts of Asia, and the Amazonregion. Travelers to these areas are generally given a prescriptionfor medication that will reduce the chances of contracting thedisease.

Getting a vaccination for typhoid, which is spread bycontaminated food and water, is recommended for travelers to theIndian subcontinent, Africa, and some parts of Latin America andAsia. Risk is greatest for those who will be in smaller cities,villages, and rural areas. Some countries also require thatincoming travelers have a vaccination certificate for yellow fever(also transmitted by mosquitoes), although there is no risk ofinfection outside of tropical South America and sub-SaharanAfrica.

In cases where vaccines are not needed, travelers should knowwhether they will be in areas with potentially unsafe food andwater. They might be advised to use iodine tablets in drinkingwater, avoid using ice in their beverages, peel raw fruit beforeeating it, and leave swimming in lakes or rivers off theiritinerary.

The Maimonides Travel Medicine Service, open Monday throughFriday, is located at 4719 Fort Hamilton Parkway between 48th and49th Streets. All patients are seen by appointment and eveningappointments are available. The services are not covered by mosthealth insurance plans.

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