University Health Services
Travelers' Health Information
Travel is exciting, but your health and wellness before and during travel is very important. The following information is designed to help you prepare for your upcoming trip. The most up-to-date recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can also be found by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
- If you are a diabetic, take certain medications, or are allergic (life-threatening) to any medications or envenomations (bee stings), please wear a medical alert bracelet or make sure you have a card in your wallet as a medical alert.
- If you take any medications on a regular basis, please make sure you have an adequate supply with you for the duration of the trip. Do not pack medications in luggage, unless they are liquid, due to flight regulations. Please pack your medications in a carry-on bag; this will ensure you are not without your medications if your luggage is lost. All prescription medications should be in their original containers with intact labels. If you are currently prescribed injectable medications (insulin pens, epi-pens) or controlled substances, have a note available from your doctor listing these medications with a doctor’s signature.
Travelers may want to consider taking a prescription antibiotic with them for self-treatment of severe diarrhea. Also, if you are going to an area where Malaria prevention is recommended, you may wish to start medicine, such as doxycycline or chloroquine, prior to your trip. Malaria prevention medicines are prescription medications that must be started 4 days prior to departure, taken daily while abroad, and continued for 1-4 weeks after you arrive home.
List of over the counter medications to bring
- Antidiarrheal medications, such as Immodium
- Anti-motion sickness medication
- Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain or fever
- Throat lozenges
- Antibacterial ointment/cream- such as Neosporin
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Sleep aid
- Water purification tablets (depending on location)
- Saline eye drops to flush eyes, if necessary
Other health-related items to bring
- Insect repellant with DEET
- Aloe gel or other sunburn gel
- Digital thermometer
- Gatorade packets to put in bottled water for rehydration
- Basic first aid supplies or compact first aid kit (will include a first aid reference card)
- Hand sanitizer or antibacterial hand wipes
Water and Food Precautions
One of the most common ways travelers become ill is from consuming contaminated water and food. It is best to only drink bottled water and avoid ice (made from possibly contaminated water) during your trip. Drink canned or bottled (check the seal) juices. Have a bottle of water available for brushing your teeth, and don’t open your mouth in the shower. A country’s agricultural practices, such as animal habits and cleaning techniques, may have an impact on food preparation and consumption. Foods to avoid include salads (could have been washed in contaminated water), fruits without peels/skin, uncooked meats, unpasteurized dairy products (can breed germs), and any food from a street vendor or restaurant that seems unclean. Typhoid, Hepatitis A, polio, traveler’s diarrhea, and cholera are transmitted through contaminated food and water.
Prevent Insect Bites
Insects are of particular concern due to disease transmission that can occur from an insect bite. Many diseases are spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks that carry bacteria, viruses, or parasites to humans. Malaria, dengue fever, tickborne encephalitis, and leishmaniasis are several diseases spread through insect bites. It is very important to prevent the occurrence of insect bites by using an insect repellant with 30%-50% DEET every day, with reapplication as necessary. Try to use unscented soaps and lotions and avoid perfume. Always wear shoes, even if at the beach or while in the ocean because many parasites are found in soils. Also, try to wear lightweight long sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes with socks.
Please make sure that your immunizations are up-to-date. It would be advisable to have a copy of your immunization records with you during travel. If you need any immunizations, please plan to see a health care provider at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. You can come to the clinic with your immunization records if you are not sure that you are up-to-date. You need to have been immunized for polio, measles/ mumps/rubella, chickenpox (varicella), and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus. Please make sure your tetanus (Td) is current, with a booster within the last 10 years.
In addition to insuring your required immunizations are up to date, there are several recommended travel immunizations. These are as follows:
- Hepatitis A- to protect against possible viral exposure through food or water, even in developed countries.
- Hepatitis B- to protect against the transmission of this virus though exposure from blood or body fluids.
- Typhoid- to protect against exposure from food and water, primarily in Central America.
- Influenza- to protect against the flu.
Precautions about alcohol and other drugs
Avoid alcohol use and experimentation with other drugs while in another country. There is a definite danger with the questionable contents/ingredients included in any of these items. Do not put yourself or others at a greater risk with consumption and subsequent intoxication from alcohol and other drugs. You do not want to be in another country dealing with some of the legal implications that accompany alcohol and drug use.