Travel Medicine

  • Medical Author:

    Sandra Gonzalez Gompf, MD, FACP is a U.S. board-certified Infectious Disease subspecialist. Dr. Gompf received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami, and a Medical Degree from the University of South Florida. Dr. Gompf completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida followed by subspecialty fellowship training there in Infectious Diseases under the directorship of Dr. John T. Sinnott, IV.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideTravel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

Travel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

What if I'm traveling while pregnant?

Pregnant women should consult with their obstetrician before travel. If available, a consultation with a travel medicine clinic is also recommended. Live vaccines are usually avoided in pregnancy. An up to date flu shot is safe and important, because flu can be very serious in pregnancy, and flu circulates at different times throughout the world. Some medications must also be avoided. This may put pregnant women at higher risk for getting sick in a foreign country. Blood clots are also more likely during pregnancy, especially with prolonged immobility and air travel.

Pregnant women should also be aware that the quality of obstetrical care in foreign countries varies considerably. It is best to have the name of a reputable clinic or hospital on hand. Women in the third trimester should consider delaying travel until after delivery. Check with your health-insurance provider in advance to determine what is covered in the destination country. You may want to purchase medical travel insurance with evacuation services (See "Travel Health Insurance & Medical Evacuation Insurance").

Diarrhea, some types of hepatitis, and malaria can be especially severe in pregnant women. Follow food, water, and insect precautions. Avoid areas with malaria if at all possible, and take medications as directed.

What about traveling with children?

Children should be up to date on all routine vaccinations including those for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, and varicella (chickenpox/shingles). Some vaccinations and medications are not recommended for children. This means that the risk or severity of certain diseases is increased in children.

Diarrhea is more common in children because so much ends up in their mouths. Children can quickly become dehydrated. Make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids. Consider adding an oral rehydration solution to your medical kit.

Children are attracted to animals and are more likely to get bitten. Bite wounds may become infected or transmit rabies. Keep children away from animals.

Newborns and infants are at special risk because they are easily dehydrated and many vaccines and medications are contraindicated in this age group. Breastfeeding will help reduce the risk of diarrhea. There are limited options for malaria prevention in infants. Around the world, malaria remains one of the major causes of death in children.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2015

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