Update, March 9, 2020: CDC has new recommendations regarding COVID-19 and Cruise Ship Travel

With off-season and spring break fast approaching and coronavirus concerns on everyone’s minds, we know many in our community are wondering whether or not they can still enjoy their travel plans — especially those headed to international destinations.

So here’s some of the most helpful links, our own personal advice and a re-release of Eric Johnson’s Tips for Safe & Healthy Travel.

The most important thing you should know is that the The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) will be the best resource for travel bans and advisories.

Those with travel plans, (international or otherwise) should be checking CDC’s Travel Health Notices site often. The CDC Travelers’ Health page could be your second stop. 

The CDC’s Frequently Asked Travel Questions is also especially useful. “Should I cancel my trip?” is the top question! 

Who We Want to Hear From

We’re advising our patients with increased risk factors those with chronic lung disease, chronic cardiac disease, diabetes, the same conditions that put you at greater risk of severe illness from influenza — to talk with your health care provider if their travel plans include visiting a country or region that makes the CDC’s list of affected geographic areas.

Likewise for patients over 65 years of age, in recognition that older adults are at a greater risk of developing severe complications from seasonal influenza, another viral respiratory disease. In recent years, according to the CDC, between 70 and 85 percent of seasonal flu deaths have occurred in people 65 and older.

And regardless of where you’re off to, every country has its own special risks, from minor to severe, and a consultation prior to travel can help to identify risks and remedies. 

11 Tips For Safe & Healthy Travel

By Eric Johnson, Nurse Practitioner

  1. Seek Consultation with a knowledgeable health care provider 2-4 weeks prior to travel.            

  2. Get appropriate vaccines for specific destinations. These should be done at least two weeks before travel, but even have benefits if given in a shorter interval. Some vaccines are recommended to protect against diseases prevalent in specific countries, while some countries require specific vaccines for entry to the country.

  3. Create a personal first aid and medical kit containing travel and personal medications for your trip. These should be in your carry-on luggage and always in their original containers. The availability and quality of supplies and medications may be questionable in many developing countries.    

  4. Consider evacuation and travel insurance if traveling out of the U.S. InsureMyTrip.com or TripInsuranceStore.com are two providers. These policies are not expensive and can be literal lifesavers if the need arises.     

  5. Take precautions against malaria and other insect borne diseases. Take anti-malarial medication as recommended by your health care provider. Medications should be purchased in the U.S. as many medications overseas contain no active ingredients. In addition to malaria, there are many mosquito and other bug borne illnesses that require bug precaution measures. See Travmed.com for insect protection products.          

  6. Road safety is important, whether in the US or abroad, always wear seat belts and use helmets on bikes and motorcycles and avoid night time driving when abroad.           

  7. Abstain from casual or unsafe sexual practices to avoid any exposure to HIV, Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted diseases.              

  8. Assure safe water and food supplies. Avoid raw foods and any non-treated water. Stick to bottled water that you have opened. Carry Potable Aqua or other water treatment products as a back up if the water supply is at all suspicious. A majority of travel associated illness is from food and water sources.  

  9. Avoid excessive sun exposure by using sunscreen with a minimum of an SPF-30 rating. Be aware that the sun is most intense from 10-4 and when on water, snow or at altitude.    

  10. Leave animals alone. Rabies or other infections and be a serious risk from bites or scratches. Even the cutest puppy may carry rabies. For certain travelers rabies vaccination may be appropriate.   

  11. Documents: Make sure to take copies of all prescriptions, duplicates of passport, driver’s license, emergency contacts, the phone and address of a local consulate or embassy and a local clinic.