Travel Health - Topic Overview
If your doctor has told you that you should have the
pneumococcal vaccine (to prevent complications of
pneumonia) or a
flu vaccine because of your age or a health condition, it
is important that you get those vaccines before you leave.
yellow fever vaccine is now required for travelers who
plan to visit countries in South America and Africa where the disease is
You may need to have the
typhoid fever vaccine, especially if you are traveling
to an area where the risk of typhoid fever is high. These areas include Central
and South America, Africa, and Asia. The nearest travel health clinic or health
department will have the most recent recommendations.
You may need
other vaccines, depending on where you are going, how long you will be there, and
what you plan to do while you are there.
- If you plan to visit an
malaria is a risk, ask your doctor to give you a
prescription for medicine to prevent malaria.
- If you may be handling or near animals in parts of the world where rabies is common, you may need to get a rabies vaccine series(What is a PDF document?).
What precautions should you take while you travel?
Before you go, find out about the places you plan to visit. Is the water
safe to drink? Do mosquitoes or other bugs carry disease? Is there air
pollution? Will you be at a high altitude that could make you sick? Is it safe
to swim in pools, lakes, or the ocean? Could you get heat exhaustion, sun
stroke, or a sunburn?
Basic safety can prevent some
- Many developing countries do not have safe
tap water. When visiting these places, drink only beverages made with boiled
water, such as tea and coffee. Canned or bottled carbonated drinks, such as
soda, beer, wine, or water are usually a safe choice. Do not use ice
if you don't know what kind of water was used to make it. And do not use tap
water to brush your teeth.
- Do not eat raw vegetables, raw fruits
(unless you wash them with safe-not tap-water and peel them yourself), or raw
or undercooked meat and seafood. Avoid food or drink from street vendors.
- In malaria-infected areas, use DEET insect repellent on exposed
skin, and use flying insect spray in the room where you sleep. Wear long pants
and long-sleeved shirts, especially from dusk to dawn. Mosquito netting works
well to protect yourself from bites while you sleep. Protect against
ticks when you visit places where
Lyme disease or
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is
- When the weather is very hot, stay indoors during the
hottest time of the day. And use sunscreen when you go outside to prevent
- Air pollution in some large
cities can pose a serious threat to those with
asthma or other respiratory conditions. Avoid those
cities when air quality is poor, or stay indoors as much as possible.
- Practice safe sex. One of the most common ways that travelers
get infections is by having sex with an infected person. Using condoms can
sexually transmitted infections and diseases.