1) See Your Doctor
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Planning before you travel abroad allows you to enjoy your trip with ease of mind and helps you stay healthy throughout the trip.
It is important to see your doctor and discuss about your travel plans before you leave. Ask about any vaccinations or medications required for the destination, understand the health risks you could face in the places you’re traveling to and take preventive measures against illness and injury.
It’s also important to keep your doctor informed about your health condition and information about your travel such as:
i) Existing medical condition
iii) Vaccination history (see below)
iv) Traveling with kids
v) Traveling period
vi) Traveling activities if it involves high risk such as mountain climbing or diving
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See your doctor before travelling to ensure that you and your family are equipped with the recommended vaccination schedule. WHO recommends that all travelers be up-to-date on their routine vaccinations listed below:
i) Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
iii) Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (TDaP)
iv) Hepatitis B
vi) Pneumococcal disease
Vaccination for the following diseases may also be recommended if the disease is common in the country you’re traveling to:
i) Hepatitis A
The hepatitis A virus is found in the faeces of people with infection. It’s usually spread by close personal contact with an infected person or by eating or drinking contaminated food or water handled by the infected person.
You’re at risk of getting malaria when you’re travelling to tropical or subtropical areas of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Central and South America. Malaria disease is transmitted by mosquito after getting bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms of malaria can be detected as early as 6 days to a couple of months later. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle ache, diarrhoea and malaise.
iii) Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes. Yellow fever occurs in parts of west and central Africa and South America. Although this illness rarely occurs in travelers, it’s important to equip yourself with the vaccination where the disease is present.
Infection can lead to two distinct phases of disease. The first phase of disease normally has symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, headache, nausea and vomiting. Patients normally recover after a few days. Some patients will enter into a more serious phase where the fever returns, jaundice occurs and blood appears in vomit. This phase may be fatal to the patient if untreated properly.
Typhoid fever are mainly spread to people who has travelled to places with poor hygiene such as parts of Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East. It’s caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi which can be found in the blood, faeces and urine of the infected person. You can be infected by ingesting the bacteria through your mouth such as drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food prepared by the infected person.
Symptoms include lethargic, headache, fever, stomach pain, constipation or severe diarrhoea, rose coloured spots on the body and weight loss.
v) Meningococcal Disease
Meningococcal disease is a result of bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain. Meningococcal disease spread by respiratory secretions such as coughing, sneezing or kissing. Disease is most likely spread through close contacts, such as living in the same household with the infected person, sexual contact with the infection person, partygoers contained in the nightclub for the whole night or children attending the same day care of the infected person for the day.
Symptoms in babies include fever, rapid breathing, vomiting or difficulty in feeding, irritability, lethargic and unusual crying. Symptoms in adults include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, stiff neck, muscle or joint pains or feeling drowsy and confused.
Rabies is a disease spread through the bite or scratch by an infected animal such as dogs, monkeys, cats and bats. Rabies can be found in most parts of the world including Africa, the Americas, continental Europe and South-East Asia.
vii) Japanese Encephalitis (JE)
JE is commonly found in rural or farming areas where pigs are present such as China, parts of South-East Asia and the Pacific. JE is transmitted through infectious mosquito bites. The mosquitoes suck blood from sick birds or pigs pick up the pathogen and pass it on to their next victim.
Symptoms of severe JE include headache, high fever, confusion, disorientated, vomiting, seizure and mental status changes.
This is a guide of vaccines recommended for travel in the following continents. Please consult your doctor for your vaccination requirements.
Note: Y – Required vaccination
3) Prescription Medications
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Ensure that you have packed your medication such as anti-malarial or anti-diarrhoeal tablets (prescribed by your doctor depending on the countries you’re going). Most importantly, make sure you have brought sufficient medication for your existing medical problems. It is very difficult to obtain replacement overseas due to either strict regulations or access to pharmacies.
You’ll need to label your medicine properly and carry the prescription letter along for your travel in case you get stopped at the customs check point or if you need to get refill prescription.
4) First Aid Kit
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It’s useful to pack a first aid kit for your travel to prepare yourself for any unforeseen injuries or illness which contains the following:
i) Plasters, bandages, gauze, antiseptic, cotton-tipped applicators
ii) Sunscreen and after sun lotion
iii) Oral rehydration solution packets
iv) Insect repellents
5) Travel Medical Insurance Coverage
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Medical insurance covers the cost of medical expenses in the event of illness or accident. It’s important to know what type of medical coverage based on the countries you’re going to and/or the activities you’ll be participating.
6) Contacts for Doctor Abroad
7) Pack Appropriate Clothing and Footwear
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Planning ahead and packing the right type of clothing and footwear will reduce the chance of falling ill depending on the weather and geographical location of the country (ie in certain countries with poor cleanliness, wearing a proper footwear will protect your feet against parasites which can break through your skin).
Vaccination Practitioner (Adult)