Depending on your destination, you may need to get vaccinated or start medications before heading out the door.
As students and families across the area gear up for spring break travel, experts at Passport Health of Upstate New York, based at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, offer some tips for staying healthy and safe. Passport Health specializes in travel medicine, preparing people for trips with destination-specific travel information, immunizations, medications and specialty travel products.
“You really need to consider where you are going and what the conditions may be like there,” said Bill Russell, RN, MS, director of Passport Health of Upstate New York, which has offices in Rochester, Syracuse and Canandaigua. “It’s going to be a very different experience for a leisure traveler off to enjoy the beaches of Bali versus someone spending a week in Haiti doing humanitarian work. We can help folks prepare for either scenario. And there are some simple guidelines that can keep travelers healthy regardless of destination.”
- Food: Make sure your meals are thoroughly cooked and served hot; stay away from street vendors and open markets. Many food-borne illness stem from questionable sources where food may not have been cooked, stored, prepared or monitored properly.
- Water: Many parts of the world do not have safe drinking water, so choose bottles or some type of purified water system. Several types of water filters can be bought in advance. Also, be careful when buying bottled water off the street; dishonest vendors may pass on tap water in used bottles with “like-new” caps. Also, think twice about using ice in beverages in areas with unsafe drinking water.
- Bugs: For areas where mosquitoes may be a problem, take care to protect yourself. For exposed skin, use a product that is between 20 and 40 percent DEET; higher concentrations absorb into the bloodstream and are toxic. Permethrin, a clothing repellent, can also be effective against mosquitoes. A combination of DEET for your skin and Permethrin for your clothes is the best protection. Remember, mosquitoes also bite at night, so be sure to use as needed all day and night.
- Sun Protection: Always use sunscreen, even on cloudy days. The higher the SPF number, the better the protection from the sun’s harmful rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing an SPF of 30 or higher for maximum protection. Choose a product that offers broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. When using sunscreen and DEET, put the sunscreen on first, let that absorb for 30 minutes, then put the DEET over it. Wear a hat!
- Tummy troubles: Many vacations have been ruined by cases of travelers’ diarrhea. Be sure to pack anti-diarrheal medication just in case.
- Safety and Security: Always carry your passport on your body when traveling. Never leave it in a purse, backpack or carry-on bag. Also, make copies of all documents that you are bringing; Keep a set in your carry-on – – never checked luggage – – and leave copies at home with someone you trust. If anything is lost or stolen, it is a great help to have copies.
Passport Health’s experienced staff can help travelers stay safe and healthy. Registered nurses will assess health history and individual needs based on itineraries; provide the latest information on health risks and safety based on real-time reports from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and other world surveillance organizations which monitor outbreaks; discuss precautionary measures for dietary and recreational activities; and administer and prescribe required immunizations and recommended medications.
“No matter the reason for traveling this spring and summer, people want to make the most of their trips. No one wants to end up sick or hurt. With a little planning and forethought, travelers can stay healthy and safe,” said Robin Drypolcher, R.N.C., B.A., assistant director of Passport Health of Upstate New York, Syracuse office.
To schedule an appointment at the Passport Health offices in Rochester and Canandaigua, call 585-275-8884. Call315-373-0643 to be seen in the Syracuse office. For more information on services offered, check out the Web site at www.passporthealthusa.com/rochester .
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