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Written by Dr.Swati Rajagopal

Planning a trip?
Our travel-medicine expert tells you what you should be prepared for

The number of individuals engaged in international travel has substantially increased over the last decade. Travelers are of different age groups and have a variety of health concerns. In this context, travel medicine becomes crucial.

Travel-medicine experts include physicians who would review the itinerary, length of stay, up-to-date travel conditions and issue advisories for the travel destination. Travel-medicine experts assess the potential health risk of the place, the need for special medicines, vaccines or immunizations to ensure health and safety of the traveler.


If flu is a cause of concern, for example the most recent outbreak of H1N1 influenza, notices are issued to travelers. A one-to-one detailed discussion is held with the individual to assess higher risk during their travel. Pre-travel consultation may cover the following. Place, duration and purpose of stay z Activities planned z Medical history including age, medical comorbids -for example, diabetes, lung conditions, medication list. Whether vaccinations are up-to date. Preventive advice If Mr X was meant to travel from Europe to India, the travel expert would give information regarding the spread of H1N1 influenza.

The health advisory would include that India is on the alert for H1N1 influenza and that it spreads through the respiratory routine and by contact. In other words, the travelers are advised not to travel out of their country if they are already suffering from the symptoms. Travelers who are in reasonable state of health would be advised to ensure adequate hand hygiene measures and follow appropriate respiratory etiquette. Addresses or contact numbers of hospitals clinics are provided so that the business executive could contact them in case he or she has any medical concern.


There are flu shots H1N1 flu vaccines that provide 70% protection. In the present day scenario, it may be reasonable to take the vaccines a minimum of two weeks before travelling to high-risk areas.

Information, medical advice, preventive advice and contact numbers of clinicians would avoid panic.

Here are some general travel tips: Avoid travel if you’re not in good health. Assess the need for travel especially to areas where there have been reports of an infectious disease. For example: Ebola in Sierra Leone, polio in Iraq etc. If travel is mandatory, then do visit a travel medicine clinic or your general physician at the earliest. Pre-travel consultation should include detailed itinerary, medication list, need for malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations. Tips to prevent food and waterborne infections, tick and vector borne infections and sexually transmitted infections are given by the healthcare provider. At the end of the consultation, the patient is advised to come for a review if there are any features of infection on return (within four weeks post return) In the present age of global travel, emerging and re-emerging infections, it has become even more essential that travelers seek medical advice before undertaking a trip.

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