Far-Off Adventures - Vaccination and Foreign Travel
Which vaccinations are required for which destinations? What are
the greatest risks for foreigh travelers? Dr. Sherri J. Tenpenny
answers those questions and many more in her articles Far-Off Adventures - Vaccination and Foreign Travel
Health problems can ruin a vacation, especially when it's serious.
Don't let that happen. Read on and prepare yourself for a rewarding and
healthy travel experience.
The time has finally arrived for the highly anticipated trip out
of the country. The plans began long ago: airplane tickets, hotel
reservations, rental car, sightseeing plans. The bags are being pulled
from the attic to be packed, and the excitement mounts with each
passing day. Everything is a go.
But wait--what about vaccines?
Is this one more preparation that needs to be added to the 'To
Do' list? Traveling out of the country can feel like a venture to
another planet. Pictures of exotic destinations coupled with new,
curious foods dance off the pages of the travel brochures. Anticipating
the unexpected can be a challenge for even the most seasoned traveler.
However, traveling with children adds an extra dimension to the
anxiety-the thought of your child becoming ill in a foreign country is
extremely frightening. Your doctor is recommending a variety of
vaccines. Are they necessary? How do you evaluate the risks?
is a viral infection that is spread through
contact with blood. In the US, Hepatitis B is primarily found in
adults, and is spread through intimate contact or through sharing
needles used with illicit drugs. Hepatitis B is more common in the
general population in East and Southeast Asia and in Sub-Saharan
Africa. Still, the risk of long-term complications is much less than we
are generally led to believe. More than 95 percent of those who
contract Hepatitis B fully recover, and an infection will result in
lifetime immunity for that person. Unless you plan to spend extended
periods in close contact with infected persons, the risks of
contracting Hepatitis B while traveling is extremely small.
is an infectious disease caused by a virus that
attacks the nervous system. The disease is seen primarily in children
under five years of age; the initial symptoms include fever, fatigue,
headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs.
Paralysis results in approximately 1 to 2 percent of children who
contract the viral infection, though the vast majority recovers
completely from this paralysis. A few, however, go on to have
permanent, lifetime disability. Polio is nearly eradicated. Once common
throughout the undeveloped world, as of February 2006, only four
countries still report isolated outbreaks: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and
Afghanistan. In addition, there have been no cases of wild polio in the
Western Hemisphere since 1991.
Polio vaccination of children continues in the US, with 5 doses
given prior to entering school, reasoning that until polio is
completely eradicated entirely, the risk of reintroducing polio into
this country is 'only a plane ride away.' However, an examination of
the data reveals only six cases of imported polio documented between
1980 and 1998, the last in New York City in 1993. The risk for
contracting polio at home is negligible; the risks overseas are nearly
is an acute, spastic paralytic illness caused by
a toxin released from the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The bacterium
is found in soils and animal feces throughout the world. Neonatal
tetanus is the most deadly and the type most often pictured in textbook
cases of tetanus. However, the vast majority of these cases occur
following childbirth and the use of unsterile equipment to cut the
umbilical cord. While other forms of tetanus are a serious disease,
recovery is the norm. In other words, tetanus is not a uniformly fatal
disease. If you are traveling to remote areas, such as the backpacking
in areas without medical care and without clean water, you may want to
give careful consideration to your tetanus status.
However a word of caution: A tetanus shot does not guarantee
protection. In a study published by the CDC (Centers for Disease
Control) in 1997, 13% of people who contracted tetanus had four or more
tetanus shots.(3) Your best protection against tetanus is to thoroughly
clean the wound with copious amounts of warm, soapy water, and to
encourage the injury to bleed profusely for a few minutes. Apply
hydrogen peroxide to clean your wound, followed by a topical antibiotic
ointment such as Neosporin.
WHAT ABOUT EXOTIC DISEASES?
When traveling overseas,
it is possible to encounter some illnesses not generally seen in the
US. The Centers for Disease Control lists the following infections as
possible concerns for anyone traveling to any destination around the
, an acute, febrile illness caused by the
bacterium Salmonella typhi, is characterized by fever, headache, and
enlargement of the spleen. The greatest risk is for travelers to the
Indian subcontinent and to developing countries in Asia, Africa, and
Central and South America who will have prolonged exposure to
potentially unrefrigerated foods.
is a mosquito-borne viral illness that can
vary in severity from a flu-like syndrome to severe hepatitis and
hemorrhagic fever. The disease occurs only in sub-Saharan Africa and
rural, tropical South America.
, another mosquito-borne viral
infection, is found throughout Asia, particularly in rural or
agricultural areas of the temperate regions of China, Japan, Korea, and
eastern Russia. The risk to short-term travelers to cities is very low.
For all of these potential infections, it is important to obtain a
natural mosquito repellant, one that is free of DEET, the toxic
additive found in most insect repellants. Mosquito Natural is a
favorite, made by Royal Neem. It is free of chemicals and contains many
is a viral disease that has an onset of fever
and diarrhea, followed within a few days by jaundice (turning yellow).
The disease ranges in clinical severity from no symptoms to a mild
illness lasting one to two weeks. Although endemic throughout the
world, Hepatitis A can be prevented by carefully following the hygiene
and following a few food recommendations :
1. Eat only cooked foods hot to the touch. Avoid eating food from street vendors.
2. Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables unless you peel them yourself.
Drink only 'safe' beverages: sealed bottled water, hot tea, coffee,
beer, wine, and boiled water; avoid drinking beverages with ice.
5. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat and seafood (hepatitis risk).
Avoid all tap water, and be careful of getting shower water in your
mouth. When dining in restaurants, ask whether the salad greens have
been washed in boiled, distilled or bottled water.
7. Avoid milk and dairy products of unknown refrigeration standards.
WHAT'S RECOMMENDED? WHAT'S REQUIRED?
Although the CDC recommends that all travelers obtain vaccines
when traveling abroad, it is important to realize that, with one
exception, no vaccine is required before you travel anywhere in the
world: they are only 'recommended.' You will not be required to have a
vaccination record to enter a country, nor will you be required to
obtain vaccines to return home. The sole exception is the Yellow Fever vaccine
which may be required if you travel to or from a South American or
African country infected with Yellow Fever. The recommendations can
vary from country to country; if such a destination is part of your
travel plans, you should look up the Yellow Fever requirements for that
I have been a globe-trotter for most of my adult life. In the
past 25 years, I have had the good fortune to have traveled to more
than 40 countries. I have never been asked for a vaccine record, nor
have I ever felt the need for any vaccines, even when traveling to
remote, exotic destinations.
Final advice? Remember to pack your passport, sunglasses and
favorite book. Have fun and don't risk getting sick before you go from
Dr. Sherri J. Tenpenny is respected as one of the country's
most knowledgeable and outspoken physicians regarding the negative
impacts of vaccines on health. Through her education company, NMA Media
Press, she spreads her vision of retaining freedom of choice in
healthcare, including the freedom to refuse vaccination. Her three hour
DVD, Vaccines: The Risk, The Benefits and The Choices
, her new book FOWL! Bird flu: It's Not What You Think
, and many other books, tapes and materials are available at http://www.nmaseminars.com/rbcDESCRIPTION.html
Information about her medical clinic can be found at http://www.osteomed2.com
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