Jefferson Health

Common Risks and Traveler Tips

According to the World Health Organization, the following are some of the common health problems associated with travel to developing countries:

  • Traveler's diarrhea, the most common risk and affects 20 to 50 percent of international travelers
  • Avian influenza
  • Influenza A (H1N1)
  • Enterotoxic E. coli diarrhea
  • Malaria
  • Acute febrile respiratory tract infections
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Gonorrhea
  • Animal bites with rabies risk
  • Typhoid fever
  • HIV infection
  • Meningococcal disease

Before Your Trip

Whether you're heading overseas for business, volunteer work, an adoption or even a vacation, there are some important precautions you should take before your trip.

  • Prepare a complete travel itinerary that lists each destination, length of stay and types of activities planned.
  • Contact your travel agent or Travel Medicine Services at Jefferson to obtain local health information – including food and beverage precautions, information about insects and the availability of emergency care.
  • Check with your insurance company to determine what coverage your policy provides for travel abroad. Carry both your insurance policy identity card and a claim form. (Remember: The Medicare program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside of the United States.)
  • Be sure to get prescription medications refilled to last the entire duration of the trip, and take extra prescriptions in case you need to have them filled while abroad. Also, make sure that your prescribed medications are not considered illegal narcotics in the countries you will visit.
  • If you have preexisting medical problems, bring along a letter from your physician describing the condition(s). Also, if applicable, wear your medical information bracelet.
  • If you wear glasses and/or contact lenses, pack extra pairs.
  • Complete the information page on the inside of your passport; be sure to list the name, address and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.
  • Contact your physician for an up-to-date immunization record, and then call Travel Medicine Services at Jefferson to schedule an appointment to receive the necessary vaccinations. During the visit, our staff will also provide specific preventive health recommendations based on your itinerary, along with the addresses and telephone numbers of U.S. embassies and consulates.

During Your Trip

Here are some important things to consider during your trip.

  • Eat foods that are steaming hot and well-cooked; these are usually the safest.
  • Avoid eating foods from street vendors,no matter how appetizing they look!
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products and raw or uncooked seafood.
  • Peel fruits yourself.
  • Avoid ice and drink commercially bottled water or carbonated beverages.
  • Use bottled water when brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid swimming and any water activities in freshwater lakes and streams; you may be exposed to certain diseases.
  • If you're traveling to a country with an increased risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases, be sure to protect yourself with insect repellents, special clothing and bed nets.