Any vacation trip is a risk—regardless of how tame the destination might
Most people know that travel to exotic or underdeveloped countries should
come with a battery of vaccinations, but this year health officials warn of
outbreaks in more-conventional vacation spots.
Specifically, Europe has the measles.
NPR’s Goats and Soda blog writes
The [measles] — which kills almost 400 kids each day worldwide — is hitting
Europe hard this year.
Romania is fighting a large outbreak with more than 3,400 cases, including
17 deaths. And Italy is seeing a big surge in cases, with at least 400
already in 2017, the World Health Organization
The outbreak is only going to get worse.
"Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new
infections is sharply rising," WHO wrote.
The spike in cases of the deadly disease is linked to a drop in
"Over the past five years, measles vaccine coverage around the world has
stagnated at around 78 percent," [
Dr. Seth Berkley
, who leads the nonprofit Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance] says. "That in
combination with the European outbreak is worrisome."
For the measles, it's not enough to have 78 percent of a population
vaccinated. You need about 90 to 95 percent to stop outbreaks, Berkeley
Because measles is one of the most contagious diseases on Earth. One sick
person spreads it to 18 others, on average. The virus literally floats
around in clouds through the air, seeking out the unvaccinated.
"You don't even need to be in the same room with a sick person to catch
measles," Berkley says. "If you were to leave a doctor's office and someone
came an hour later, that person could catch measles just from the virus
left in the air."
Travel vaccines are nothing new for communicators who have been working to
inform the public about health risks associated with overseas adventuring.
However, recent declines in public trust in vaccines are a worrisome trend
for public health professionals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done research into why
travelers decline their vaccinations. The CDC tweeted its findings:
The results point to a messaging problem, as
suggests that most people who refuse vaccines are simply unconvinced of the
danger of infection.
The CDC suggests that clinicians should be ready with facts to combat
apathy when working one on one with patients.
These reports come amid continued anxiety surrounding the Zika virus and
its effects on travelers to tropical climes. The CDC continues to warn
pregnant women not to travel to areas where Zika has been reported.
It has also published
with Zika outbreak areas.
Beyond just Zika, the CDC curates a comprehensive directory of
every travel destination and its associated risks.
There are other concerns for global travelers beyond viruses and
vaccinations. Travelers can be vulnerable to a wide variety of health
issues, from blood clots to food poisoning.
Travel guru Rick Steves shares these basic tips on his
Take precautions on the flight.
Long flights are dehydrating. Eat lightly, stay hydrated, and have no
coffee or alcohol and only minimal sugar until the flight’s almost over.
Avoid the slight chance of getting a blood clot in your leg during long
flights by taking short walks hourly.
The longer your trip, the more you’ll be affected by an inadequate diet.
Budget travelers often eat more carbohydrates and less protein to stretch
their travel dollars. Protein helps you resist infection and rebuilds
Use good judgment when eating out (and outside Europe).
Avoid unhealthy-looking restaurants. Meat should be well cooked (unless, of
course, you’re eating sushi, carpaccio, etc.) and, in some places, avoided
altogether. Have “well done” written on a piece of paper in the pertinent
language and use it when ordering.
Wash your hands often, keep your nails clean, and avoid touching your eyes,
nose, and mouth. Hand sanitizers, such as Purell, can be helpful. However,
since they target bacteria, not viruses, they should be used as an adjunct
to, rather than a replacement for, hand washing with soap and warm water.
Practice safe sex.
Sexually transmitted diseases are widespread. Obviously, the best way to
prevent acquiring an STD is to avoid exposure. Condoms (readily available
at pharmacies and from restroom vending machines) are fairly effective in
preventing transmission. HIV is also a risk, especially among prostitutes.
Get enough sleep.
Know how much sleep you need to stay healthy (generally 7–8 hours per
Additionally, On Call International put out
on travel health risks.
Communicators, how are you warning of the inherent health risks of overseas