July 19, 2024

Pre trip planning involves all kinds of exciting and interesting stuff.  Researching interesting and exotic sites to visit. Discovering just the right hotel in the perfect location.  Learning a bit of the language for foreign travel.  Perhaps searching out hidden beaches or delightful restaurants where you can sample some of the local cuisine.  Planning such as this can be a delightful part of the travel adventure (see related post)  But one of my less favorite parts of pre trip planning is researching Travel Medicine issues.  Not real fun – but a prudent endeavor and sometimes essential – especially when planning for foreign travel.

It’s never fun to be sick – but it is especially “unfun” when you are traveling.  So, under the heading of “Better Safe Than Sorry” I try to make it a point learn about any particular medical concerns or issues that I might encounter at my travel destination.  With this in mind I recently stopped for a visit at the Travel and Immunization Clinic in my hometown (Travel and Immunization Clinic).  I’m preparing for a trip to China later this spring and it was time to deal with any Travel Medicine issues that I might encounter. Time for a bit of pre-travel health counseling related to travel in China as well as possible immunizations and travel medication prescriptions. The folks at Travel and Immunization Clinic are travel medicine experts.  They are very help – and they have an office that has some great travel photography!  

I had a delightful and very helpful consultation with clinic staff about medical considerations for China.  We talked about possible immunization needs – and reviewed the list – it was a rather lengthy list – here it is:  Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis,Yellow Fever, Tick-borne encephalitis, Rabies, Influenza, Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis , Measles/mumps/rubella, Pneumococcal, Polio, and Varicella.  I have to admit, I found this list to be just a wee bit intimidating!  And we weren’t done yet. After covering the immunization issues we then moved on to other medical issues and possible precautions.  Again, quite a list:  Traveler’s diarrhea, Avian Flu (H5N1), hand, foot, and mouth disease, tuberculosis, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Dengue, Lyme disease, Schistosomiasis, Hantavirus, Trematode, Monkey bites, and Altitude Sickness. 

Now I have to admit that the information covered and provided was thorough – down to and including Monkey Bites?  But apparently a number of tourists have been bitten and, as it turns out, monkeys can transmit a number of diseases.  After covering all of these medical possibilities we then reviewed my own medical history as well as the particulars of my upcoming travels in China (locations to be visited, accommodations, travel duration, etc.) we cut the list down significantly.  This was a BIG HELP.  After review I ended up with immunization injections for Hepatitis A and an update for tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis. I also got precautionary prescriptions for  Diamox for Altitude Sickness (see previous related article), Cipro for gastro-intestinal infections, a Z Pack for upper-respiratory infections, and Tamiflu for various types of influenza.

Of course we also reviewed basic health precautions for healthy travel.  Watch what you eat, what you drink, and what you touch.  “Street food” might look great but is risky.  Bottled water is the rule of the road in China and avoid ice.  Wash hands frequently and use anti-bacterial wipes and lotions frequently and liberally.  Now I’m sure some will say that all of this focus on health precautions is over kill and unnecessary.  And yes, I am sure that many folks travel to China and experience no health issues at all.  But as I said, it is no fun to be ill on vacation – especially in a very foreign country.  So I am going with the “Better Safe Than Sorry”  approach.  I may miss out on a few great taste treats offered by street venders in Beijing or Xian but, hopefully, I will minimize the chances of falling victim to some Chinese illness that my American body and immune system are not accustomed to.  

I need to emphasize that the immunizations and medications that I ended up with were based upon my own personal health history and the specifics of my travel plans.  These quite possibly might not be the appropriate medications for you – so be sure to visit your own physician or travel clinic to determine what is best for you. 

And – oh yes – one final “note to self” based upon my travel medicine consultation – don’t feed the monkeys!

Be Healthy ……… And Enjoy The Adventure!

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker