Doctors to Promote Vaccines to International Travelers
“If you’re planning a summer trip overseas, you may be preoccupied with booking airfare and finding lodging, but certain destinations require an extra step of planning: travel vaccines.”
“You might be tempted to skip the extra doctor’s visit, but don’t. Last year saw a record number of measles cases in Europe, and the highly contagious illness continues to spread across the continent. Yellow fever remains a significant concern in South America, and hepatitis A has doctors everywhere, including in the U.S., on alert.”
“You can protect yourself from all three of these illnesses (and more) if you get your shots in time, says Consumer Reports. Here’s a quick rundown on the travel vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Measles: one of the most contagious of all infectious diseases, is spread through the cough or sneeze of an infected person. Symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. In rare cases, the disease can cause brain swelling and can be fatal. Measles outbreaks have become increasingly common in the past couple of years, in the U.S. and in other countries. Europe is of particular concern for travelers.
- Yellow Fever: is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito (the same one that spreads Zika, dengue, and chikungunya). Although the virus was eradicated from much of the world in the mid-1900s, it has re-emerged in recent years in parts of Africa and South America, including, most recently, Brazil. You definitely don’t want to skip this shot. Yellow fever is a serious disease. The CDC estimates that it can be fatal in 15 to 20% of cases.
- Hepatitis A: a virus that causes liver disease. It spreads through contaminated food and through physical contact with an infected person, especially if that person doesn’t wash his or her hands properly after using the bathroom. It’s common among people who travel to developing countries, particularly those who visit rural areas, though it can also be spread in more modern tourist accommodations.
- Hepatitis B: a different but related virus that passes through blood, semen, and other body fluids. It can disappear after just a few weeks or it can linger for a lifetime, potentially causing liver disease and cancer. This virus occurs in nearly every part of the world, but it’s most common in Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean.
- Typhoid: a serious disease caused by the bacteria salmonella typhi and is spread through contaminated food and water. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Typhoid is rare in developed countries like the U.S. but common in most of the rest of the world, especially South Asia.
- Rabies: a disease caused by a virus that spreads through the saliva of infected animals. Prevention of this disease is especially important because once contracted, it’s almost always fatal. In most developed countries, including the U.S., the risk of human infection is low because the virus is rare in domestic animals. But in much of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, rabies in dogs is still a problem.”
“Before any international trip, you should make sure you’re up to date on all of your routine vaccines, not only measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) but also diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP), varicella (chickenpox), polio, and your yearly flu shot. Being current with your routine vaccines will give you the best protection against these illnesses.”
According to AudienceSCAN, 20.2% of American adults plan to vacation outside of the U.S. within the next 12 months. However, they may not yet know what vaccines they should get before their trip. Most of these travelers get their local news from the TV, newspaper, radio and magazines, and are also receptive to search, email and internet banner ads. They can be shown the importance of keeping up with their shots on these channels.
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