Travel-Related Illness: Montezuma's Revenge (cont.)

The key for your travel is going to be to make sure you keep the medication at the proper temperature, and that it's taken on the proper schedule. If the MS is stable and you're doing well, I believe that sensible travel is possible.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I'm going on a tour of Finland, Sweden, and Norway in August. Any suggestions or problems with food there?

DUPONT:
You're traveling to some of the safest parts of the world. The only caution I would give you there is to not eat foods you wouldn't eat in the US, such as raw meats that might be served, but otherwise this is like traveling within the US and I'm not worried about anything special.

"Anyone traveling to a high-risk region of the world where diarrhea or malaria occurs commonly will need competent pre travel advice from a knowledgeable physician or travel medicine clinic."

MEMBER QUESTION:
Is it worth discussing any upcoming vacation with one's doctor?

DUPONT:
I'm going back to my original question and answer that there are two issues here: One is the safety of the place to be visited, and the other is the underlying health of the traveler. Certainly anyone with serious underlying medical problems should seek pre travel advice from their physician. Also, anyone traveling to a high-risk region of the world where diarrhea or malaria occurs commonly will need competent pre travel advice from a knowledgeable physician or travel medicine clinic.

Travel medicine clinics in the U.S. are the best places to go for travel advice and vaccine. They have something regular doctors do not have; they have regular weekly updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) giving risks and recommendations for every place a visitor might travel, so travel- or itinerary-specific recommendations can be made.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What's the best first aid kit for packing on our upcoming car trip? We will be hiking and doing some lake swimming.

DUPONT:
I'm going to expand the term from first aid kit to medical kit. One takes all their normal medicines, plus medications they might need for anything that might occur in the US, such as colds, heartburn, or diarrhea. In other words, they need a mobile pharmacy, because in the wilderness the hours of the stores are pretty limited.

You also need to make provisions for safe water, which can be with a filter or with plans for boiling the water. Water can be brought to a boil and rendered safe during backpacking.

MODERATOR:
How much of a problem is malaria for the traveler?

DUPONT:
We have more than a thousand cases occurring each year, from the industrialized west to malarious areas, resulting in deaths. The most important areas for malaria are sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia, and South America. The most serious cases occur during travel to Africa.

Anyone going to an area where malaria is present must do three things:

  • Wear insect repellant every evening like after shave lotion or perfume.
  • You need to take medication, which you get from your doctor or travel medicine clinic, to prevent malaria.
  • If you develop any fever after that trip, you must report to a doctor immediately and indicate a potential exposure to malaria.

MODERATOR:
Dr. DuPont, before we wrap things up, do you have any final words for us?

DUPONT:
I think no one should be frightened of travel. Only rarely do medical conditions preclude travel, and we can prevent most of the illnesses by being careful what we do. The few illnesses that do develop can be adequately managed, either by the traveler or by a physician en route or at home. It is possible to travel safely and with health, but a little bit of knowledge goes a long way on this topic.

MODERATOR:
Thanks to travel medicine expert Herbert L. DuPont, MD, for sharing his expertise with us today. For more information, please be sure to visit our message boards to talk with others and ask questions of our experts. Links to some of the message boards are located on page 1of this transcript.



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