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Why getting medical advice before traveling is vital to having a safe trip

Posted: 8:57 AM, Aug 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-01 17:51:44-04
Why getting medical advice before traveling is vital to having a safe trip

CLEVELAND — If you’re planning a trip overseas, you’re probably thinking about what you’re going to pack, the places you’ll visit, and the food you’re going to eat – but are you thinking about your health?

Experts say getting medical advice before you take off is just as important as making an itinerary.

“There are illnesses associated with developing countries, tropical countries.”

Doctor Keith Armitage, medical director of University Hospital’s Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine says most people get sick while traveling from mosquitoes, food, and water, but if you take precautions there’s no need to worry.

“We recommend people come two or three weeks before they travel, some of the vaccines take time to take effect. So if people come the day before they travel, we can still help them. But in general, two or three weeks,” Armitage said.

The most common vaccine given at the Roe Green Center is Hepatitis A, which is very common in developing countries along with typhoid fever.

Doctor Armitage says people who grew up in the United States lack immunity to those viruses, and for those heading to Europe this summer there’s a new warning.

“There's a lot of measles in western Europe. People born between 1957 and around 1980 may not have immunity to measles. The vaccines that were given in the late 50s and 60s and early 70s don't provide prolonged protection,” Armitage said.

A pre-travel consultation will run you just shy of $100 at the center, and vaccines are estimated between $300 and $500.

Doctor Armitage also recommends enrolling in a travel health insurance program.

That sounds like a lot of money, but Armitage says its well worth it.

“People can check their policy but most health insurance doesn't cover you abroad. And especially doesn't cover the expense of getting you back to the United States if you have a serious illness. And that can be you know, 10s of thousands of dollars.”