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Travelling is an exciting and rewarding experience. Maintaining health and avoiding injury, illness or disease are important pre travel goals to maximise your holiday, business or exchange experience.
Deakin Medical Centres provides comprehensive pre and post travel-related services including, vaccination assessment, medications review, risk assessment, safe behaviours advice (for example, insect bite avoidance) and provision of education resources such as handouts and a travel brief.
The following general travel health information and advice is designed to provide basic information but does not replace the need for an individualised and, or group travel health consultation or education session with a travel health professional.
NOTE: this vaccine information is a guide only and should not be used in place of medical consultation.
Some counties require specific vaccinations to be given before entry or exit to that country (for example, yellow fever) however in the majority of cases vaccination is an important health measure to minimise contracting certain vaccine preventable diseases. It is important to remember that:
All travellers should be in date for and/or have completed the standard childhood vaccination schedule according to the travellers age and medical history including:
For other vaccinations that may be recommended please visit Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 'Smart traveller'
All vaccines have the potential to cause side effects however in most instances they are minor and short term. Please discuss vaccine contra-indications and potential side effects with your travel health provider.
Before travelling overseas (particularly for exchange and long term travel) it is important to be in optimal physical and mental health to ensure maximum enjoyment. Therefore it is recommended to undertake a health check or medical examination, well before departure especially if you have any chronic or current medical conditions (for example depression, asthma or skin conditions).
Ensure you carry a letter or documentation from your doctor outlining any medical or surgical conditions you have and usual treatments including medications and allergies.
A pre-departure dental check is also highly recommended, in particular if you have not had one in the last six months. You may also consider carrying an emergency dental kit. Discuss this with your dentist or travel health provider.
Travel insurance is critical for all travellers to cover issues including theft, loss, medical treatment and evacuation. Medical and hospital costs in many countries are significant for example:
Shop around for policies and ask for guidance from your travel agent. This is one insurance policy you need to fully understand to ensure you know exactly what you are covered and not covered for. Some policies may exclude high-risk activities including scuba diving, bungy jumping and transportation where you have not used safety equipment such as riding a motorbike without a helmet.
A first aid kit is a must for all travellers. Kit contents vary depending on time away, destination and isolation to reliable medical care. Recommended items include:
A variety of pre-packed first aid kits are available from some travel health providers and are often a more cost effective way than buying first aid kit items separately. Discuss your first aid kit, medications and equipment requirements with Deakin Medical Centre staff or your travel health provider.
Sending or carrying Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications overseas that are not for personal use is illegal. Some time ago a female traveller was jailed in Greece for carrying headache medication containing codeine.
Before travelling contact the embassy of the country(s) you are visiting to check your medication is legal there. You can obtain further information by calling the Health Insurance Commission's (HIC) ' Overseas drug diversion line' on 1800 500 147. Always carry medication in its original container clearly labelled with your name and carry written instructions and a letter of authorisation from your doctor for any medications you are taking overseas.
Try at all times to keep your first aid kit and medications in a cool and dry place, and when flying ensure you carry any required medication with you in your hand luggage. If your luggage goes missing you will at least have some medication available.
Australian prescriptions cannot be filled overseas. Take enough medication with you for the whole of your trip and avoid purchasing medication overseas. It is estimated that up to one third of medication sold overseas is either fake or sub standard. You may not know what you are buying! In addition many drug names are different in other countries.
Probably the greatest risk to overseas travellers is contracting a disease or infection from contaminated food or water. Although usually minor, traveller's diarrhoea affects approximately 50% of travellers. Many diseases and organisms can be transmitted by contaminated food or water including; typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A and E and e-coli..
Minimise your risk:
There are a number of strategies and products available if fresh or safe bottled drinking water is not available. Discuss these with your travel health provider.
Despite prevention strategies (as above) studies indicate traveller's diarrhoea is still a common occurrence for all travellers regardless of their trip length and safe food / water practices, therefore it is important to discuss and have written information on how to manage travellers diarrhoea should it occur.
Insect bites including mosquitoes don't just hurt or cause infection but can transmit diseases including malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, typhus, Chagas disease, Japanese encephalitis and Lyme disease!
Minimise your risk by:
Please note: no conclusive research has found vitamin B to be beneficial in decreasing the amount of mosquito bites you receive.
Avoid deliberate contact with animals. If bitten or scratched and there is a risk of rabies treat the area immediately with (preferably) warm soapy water OR normal saline, bottled or boiled water and apply an antiseptic. Seek medical aid immediately. Treat other bites and stings as per normal first aid practices.
Malaria is an illness caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of a female anopheline mosquito during dusk to dawn hours. There are four species of malaria-causing parasites: one is rapidly fatal, while others can cause recurrent episodes over years.
There are different types of anti-malaria medication available. The need to prescribe and the type of anti-malaria medication recommended is based on a number of factors including, country or part of a country or countries visited, time of year or season, length of stay, type or standard of accommodation, rural or urban travel, age / medical condition of the traveller and proximity to medical treatment.
Important note: No tablet is 100% effective is preventing malaria! You need to avoid mosquito bites, take malaria tablets as prescribed and seek medical treatment immediately if you develop a temperature over 38 degrees celsius during or after a visit to a malaria area
Adequate and thorough planning and sensible behaviour while you're away will ensure maximum safety and enjoyment and minimal problems. So bon voyage and enjoy safe, happy travels!
Please note: Whilst care has been taken to ensure that external web sites are credible sources of information, no responsibility can be taken for their content. Web-based health information does not replace the need to see an appropriate health care professional.