There are millions of vacation destinations to visit this summer and thousands of sights to see, but there is one surefire way to ruin your trip -- getting sick. Although you may not be thinking about viruses and bacterial infections when you plan your trip, there are a few nasty bugs you should be aware of as you pack your bags.
Dr. Scott Weisenberg, director of the Travel Medicine Service of the Division of Infectious Diseases at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, offers the following checklist to help you stay healthy and active in whatever corner of the world you may find yourself this summer.
* Pack a healthy travel kit. Prepare a separate bag that will get you through any unforeseen illness and help you manage any chronic conditions while away from home. Your kit should include:
o Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain or fever. However, you should consult a physician immediately if you have any of the following symptoms while on vacation: bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, high fever or dehydration.
o Imodium for mild diarrhea. While on vacation, only eat meat that is thoroughly cooked. You should also steer clear of raw vegetables, dairy products sold by small independent vendors, and any dairy products that seem to have been left out in the sun.
o Travel-related medications. If you are traveling to a malaria-containing region, medications can significantly reduce the chance of infection with this serious disease. You should also see a doctor experienced in travel medicine to determine if you also need vaccines against illnesses such as yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A.
o Existing medications. You should bring all of your existing medications in their original pharmacy containers with the prescription so that you can get them refilled if necessary.
o Altitude and motion sickness medications. If you are on a long flight you should also try to stand up and walk and/or stretch for several minutes every hour or so, to avoid blood clots that can form in your legs. To avoid jet lag, eat a light meal during your flight, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
o Bottled Water. Travelers frequently become dehydrated during long flights. Drink fruit juices or bottled water to prevent dehydration during your flight.
o Insect repellant. Insect repellents reduce the chances of infection with insect-transmitted diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Use a bed net at night if you are in a malaria region.
o Water purification tablets. Although it is wise to stay away from drinking tap water while on vacation if you can, it is also important to refrain from using tap water in any way, including in ice, in mixed drinks, and brushing your teeth with tap water.
o Emergency contact information. Have copies of emergency contact numbers, copies of all evacuation insurance, and contact information and addresses for local embassies.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center