Do I really need to get Yellow Fever?

Posted in Altitude, Aviation, Calgary Travel Clinic, Influenza, Malaria, Meningitis, Uncategorized, Vaccines | Leave a comment

What is Typhoid??

Typhoid Fever is an illness cause by a bacteria called Salmonella enterica.  There is an estimated 22 million cases of typhoid worldwide each year. Did you know that travellers to southern Asia have  a 6-30 times higher risk than for all other destinations. You can get typhoid through the consumption of water and food that has been contaminated with feces of an infected person.  You may be staying at a 5 stars resort and get infected with Typhoid. How do I avoid Typhoid? Bowmont offers different Typhoid vaccines. A consultatant will help you determine which is best suited for your individual travel needs.

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Safari in Africa

When preparing to go on a safari in Africa, the travel consultant must consider a number of factors such as: what vaccines have you had, your personal health issues and medications, what are the medical issues in the country at the moment, what do you plan to do while you are in Africa, where will you go before and after safari.

Let’s say you want to go to Tanzania. Anyone travelling anywhere should have vaccines for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Flu. In addition, you should have Typhoid, possibly Yellow Fever, Meningitis and Polio, Malaria medication, Dukoral (a preventative drink for traveller’s diarrhea) and/or Florastor(probiotic).

Carrying a vaccine record is highly recommended because if you get sick and go to a clinic in Tanzania, the medical staff will want to see what vaccines you have had in order to help diagnose you. You are not a good historian about what vaccines you have had when you are sick!

Posted in Calgary Travel Clinic, Malaria, Meningitis, Travel Clinic Calgary, Traveller's Diarrhea, Vaccines | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Altitude with a Group

I had a mother call me the other day worried about her teenager going to Ecuador with a group of other teens lead by a very popular outdoor group.  They expected to be at an altitude of 14 to 15000 ft. The mother was worried because some of the travellers had received medication for prevention of altitude sickness, some had received medication for treatment of altitude sickness and some had none. Sounds like the 3 bears and like the 3 bears there is nothing wrong with either choice. The group was going to be acclimizing for 3 days at a lower altitude, which is the recommended time line, they were not going to be sleeping at altitude, which makes a big difference and they were with a group leader who was prepared to descend if anyone appeared to be ill, which is the number 1 treatment for altitude sickness. I told the Mother to stop worrying, tell her teenager to continue on with the original plan of taking the drug only if she developes symptoms.

This mother did a couple of things right.  She took her teenager to a real Travel Clinic before she traveled.  Our consultants are up to date on all of the recommendations for altitude travel and are trained to discuss all of the choices.  When she received conflicting information from other parents and the group leader she called the Travel Clinic back and we were able to reassure her that what she was doing for her child was the right choice. Unfortunately not all people who profess to know travel medicine keep up to date or attend conferences where they learn what the best practices are.

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Who should worry about Measles?

The CDC has recently reported 6500 cases of measles in Europe.  Most of them are in France (go figure) but Spain and the former Yugoslavia has reported their share as well. There have also been reported outbreaks in the USA.

So, who needs to worry? Any one who has not received 2 doses of vaccine in their lifetime. This includes any one born in Canada during the decade of the 70′s.  At that time we were only giving 1 dose, so check your baby immunization record to see how many you received.  If you do not have that record you can check with public health in the area that you lived from age 1 to 5. If you can not find a record of 2 doses than you should likely assume that you only had 1.

The other group is children whose parents decided against vaccine. This was a fairly safe decision as long as the child never leaves Canada because the rest of us vaccinated our children and generally the whole country has “herd immunity”. Now that those children are reaching young adulthood we are seeing them in the Travel Clinic with plans to travel the world usually on a shoe string.  This makes these people very susceptible to childhood illnesses abroad. If you fall into this category you should plan on at least 6 months to get all of the recommended vaccines.

For more information visit: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html

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Vaccines and Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and planning on travelling it is very important that you visit a Travel Clinic. There are some vaccines that we never give to pregnant women because of the danger to the fetus.  There are vaccines that we give to pregnant women after weighing the risks to the mother over the risk to the fetus.  And there are vaccines that we give frequently to pregnant women because we know they are safe in pregnancy. The same applies to prescriptions.

If you are planning a trip and are also planning to get pregnant our advice is always stay on your birth control until you are back in Calgary. If that is not possible then get your vaccines before you get pregnant, visit a Travel Clinic and maybe alter your itinerary so that you are not at risk for some diseases that can be devastating.

Remember also that pregnant women do miscarry, or threaten to miscarry and so good travel insurance is a good idea as is an injection kit.  Bowmont Travel Clinic sells a great little kit with needles, syringe, IV tubing etc. so that you can have the local health personnel use your clean sharps if you require medical care in a third world country.

Visit motherrisk for more information:

http://www.motherisk.org/women/index.jsp

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Are you Still Recommending Gardasil?

Absolutley! And, it is now recommended for boys and men as well. I am not sure why the males were left out when we know that the HPV virus is sexually transmitted and we know that guys have sex. If you are sexually active at any age you should ask about being vaccinated against HPV. Most cervical cancers are caused by the HPV virus as well as mouth cancers and genital warts.

You can call Bowmont Travel Clinic and set up an appointment for Gardasil.  A referral is not necessary.

Visit the link to get more information: http://gardasil.ca/home.html

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How Effective are Vaccines?

I was recently at a Calgary Wellness Fair and spoke with a woman who contracted Typhoid while working abroad. She was unaware that the vaccine she received didn’t protect her 100%. All of us who work in the field of Travel Medicine know that no vaccine is 100% a 100% of the time.  There are differing responses amongst the general population.  Some people get an excellent response while someone else may just get a mediocre response. The bottom line though is that they all have a better response then someone who did not get the vaccine.

Although this person felt that she was quite ill it is very likely that she would have been even sicker if she had not received the vaccine. We know that vaccinated persons who do fall ill with the disease are usually much better off than those who didn’t bother with the vaccine. The studies on typhoid vaccine shows a 75% effectiveness with a drop to 55% after 3 years. It is important to know that boosters are important for on going protection. Because there is so much to know in the field of Travel Medicine we think it is important that you visit a Travel Clinic before each trip.

People are often surprised that we see typhoid in Canada.  In the USA it is the most frequently diagnosed travel related disease. And it frequently comes from Mexico. Although I do not have any statistics for Canada the result is likely the same. Go to the attached link for info on Typhoid from the World Health organization.

http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/diarrhoeal/en/index7.html#vaccine

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Is There Anything I Can Do For Jet Lag?

Jet Lag
 
Before Travel
1.
Decrease sleep debt (be well rested before traveling).
2.
Hydrate – 6 to 8 glasses of water per day x 3 days
3.
No alcohol, caffeine or drugs, 1 day before and during travel.
4.
Light workouts 3 days prior.
5.
Diet – Avoid carbonated beverages.

You can try this diet but be warned it is time comsuming.

http://www.netlib.org/misc/jet-lag-diet

6.
+ / – shift bed time to accommodate place you are traveling to, 2 to 3 nights before departure.
During Travel
1.
Keep hydrated – drink water.
2.
No alcohol.
3.
Get up and walk / isotonic exercise every 1 to 2 hours when awake.
4.
Sleep on the plane – ear plugs, sleep mask, neck rests, + / – Imovane (Rx), comfy socks.
5.
Diet – eat light and avoid carbonated beverages. .
After Arrival
1.
Set watch to local time.
2.
Stay up until local bedtime.
3.
+ / – Melatonin; + / – Light Therapy  http://www.bowmonttravel.ca/lighttherapy.htm
4.
Have a shower or swim.
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Is It Too Late to Get Vaccinated?

The answer to this question is No!

There a couple of reasons why we should vaccinate even at the last minute as the traveller is stepping on the plane.

1. Some diseases like Hepatitis A incubate for 2 weeks in the body before they make you ill. This is also the time line for the Hepatitis A vaccine to take affect.

2. If you have been vaccinated before for the same disease the “booster” dose will take affect much faster than the first dose.

3. But the main reason is that if you left your travel health advice to the last minute for this trip you will most likely do it for your next trip. If you get vaccinated now you may have minimal protection for this trip but next time you travel you will be well covered.

Visit the CDC website for information on all vaccines.http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/

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