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March 5, 2012

Safe Travel Monday

Planning a trip or vacation this spring? Safe and healthy travel should not be overlooked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) campaign, “Be Proactive! Be Prepared! Be Protected!," encourages travelers to make their health and well-being a top priority with a few simple measures.

First off, investigate the health concerns and risks associated with your destination. The CDC's website provides health and travel information for countries around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) also maintains an updated listing of global disease outbreaks at http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/index.html.

According to Bradley Sack, MD, ScD, professor of International Health, “Persons traveling to the developing world should consult an international travel medicine service to ensure safe travel.” The Johns Hopkins International Travel Medicine Service, staffed by expert travel medicine physicians and nurses, provides immunizations and prescription for travel medications. Visiting the service at least 4 to 6 weeks before departure is recommended to ensure health concerns are addressed before a trip. Individuals with babies and young children, disabilities, or weakened immune systems, as well as those who are ill or have recently had surgery, may need to consider further health precautions.

Once you begin packing for the trip, remember to prepare a travel health kit with prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, first aid supplies, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and more. A comprehensive list can be found at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/pack-smart.aspx. Also, remember to plan ahead actions to take in case of illness or injury on the trip.

Finally, be sure to monitor your health both on the trip and once you have returned. Remember to take measures to avoid bug and animal bites, consume only water and foods that are safe, wear sunscreen and protective gear, and limit health and safety risks. If you feel sick or unwell upon return, make sure to visit your doctor.

The Johns Hopkins International Travel Medicine Service is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 410-955-8931. Visit http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/medicine/travel/ for more information.

To learn more about travel safety in general, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/survival-guide.aspx.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.