Far Adventures – Vaccination and Foreign Travel

The time has finally come for the expected overseas trip. Plans started: plane tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, travel plans. Bags were covered from the well to pack, and the excitement increased with each passing day. All in one go.

But wait – what about vaccines?

Is this another preparation that should be added to the "To Do" list? Traveling from the country can feel like an affair with another planet. Photos of different destinations are accompanied by fresh, curious dishes danced on the pages of the travel brochures. Expecting the unexpected can be a challenge for the more adventurous traveler. However, traveling with children adds another dimension to your anxiety — the thought of your child getting sick in a foreign country that is so scary. Your doctor recommends different vaccines. Are they needed? How do you evaluate the risks?

Hepatitis B a virus infection that spreads through contact with blood. In the US, Hepatitis B is primarily found in adults, and is spread through close contact or through the sharing of needles used with illicit drugs. Hepatitis B is more common in the general population of East and Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the risk of long-term complications is much less than most of us believe. More than 95 percent of contracted Hepatitis B patients are fully recovered, and an infection results in overall human disease. Unless you plan to spend a long time in close contact with infected people, the risks of contracting Hepatitis B are limited.

polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The disease is found in children under five years of age; The first symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness, and arm pain. Paralysis results in almost 1 to 2 percent of children contracting the virus infection, even if the majority of people recover completely from this paralysis. Some, however, will continue to have a permanent, sick life with disability.
Polio is almost gone. Most of the world has not yet been developed, as of February, 2006, only four countries are still reporting single explosions: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In addition, there have been no cases of wild polio in the Western Hemisphere since 1991.

Polio vaccination of children continues in the US, with 5 doses given before entering school, (1) arguing that until polio is completely eliminated, the risk of polio change in this country is the "only on a plane aboard." However, a review of the data shows only six cases of imported polio were reported between 1980 and 1998, the latter in New York City in 1993. (2) The risk for contracting polio the house is uneasy; overseas risks are nearly the same.

tetanus is an acute, spastic paralytic disease caused by a poison released from the Clostridium tetani bacterium. Bacteria are found in the soils and feces of animals around the world. Neonatal tetanus is the most deadly and is the type most frequently described in cases of tetanus. However, most of these cases occur after childbirth and the use of unused equipment to sever the umbilical cord. While some forms of tetanus are a serious illness, healing is the norm. That is to say, tetanus is not a common lethal disease. If you are traveling to remote areas, such as backpacking in areas where there is no medical care and without clean water, you may want to keep in mind your tetanus.

Still a word of caution: A tetanus shot does not guarantee protection. In a study published by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in 1997, 13% of people contracting tetanus had four or more shots of tetanus. (3) Your best protection against tetanus is to cleanse the wound with lots of hot, soapy water, and to encourage bleeding damage for several minutes. Apply hydrogen peroxide to cleanse your wound, followed by a topical antibiotic smear such as Neosporin.

When traveling abroad, it is possible to experience some illnesses that are not uncommon in the US. The Disease Control Checklist lists the following infections as possible concerns for anyone traveling to any destination worldwide:

Typhoid demolition , a acute, febrile disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, is characterized by fever, headache, and enlargement of the spleen. The biggest risk is for travelers to the Indian subcontinent and developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America with long-term exposure to unhealthy foods.

Yellow Fever a mosquito-borne disease that can range from a flu-like illness to severe hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever. The disease occurs only in sub-Saharan Africa and rural, tropical South America.

Japanese Encephalitis , another mosquito-borne infection, has been found throughout Asia, especially in rural or agricultural areas in hot regions of China, Japan, Korea, and eastern Russia. The risk for urban travelers is low.
For all its potential infections, it is important to get a natural mosquito repellent, one that does not contain DEET, the toxic additive found in most insect repellants. , made by Royal Neem. It is chemical free and contains many natural ingredients.

Hepatitis A a viral disease with the onset of fever and diarrhea, followed by several days by jaundice (again yellow). The disease consists in the sacredness of the clinic from the absence of symptoms of a mild illness that lasts one to two weeks. Although endemic worldwide, Hepatitis A can be prevented by careful hygiene and following some dietary recommendations:

1. Eat only cooked foods that are hot to the touch. Avoid eating foods from street vendors.
2. Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables unless you peel yourself.
3. Drink only "safe" drinks: bottled water, hot tea, coffee, beer, wine, and boiled water; avoid having drinks with ice.
5. Avoid eating raw or unhealthy meats and seafood (risk of hepatitis).
6. Avoid all tap water, and be careful to get shower water in your mouth. When eating at restaurants, ask if the greens in the salad have been washed with boiled, distilled or bottled water.
7. Avoid milk and milk products that are unfamiliar with refrigeration standards.


Even if the CDC recommends that all travelers get vaccines when traveling abroad, it is important to note that, with one exception, no vaccine is required before you travel anywhere in the world: they "recommended only." You do not need to have a vaccination record to enter a country, nor do you need to get vaccinations to return home. The only exception is the Yellow Fever vaccine , which may be needed if you are traveling to or from a South American or African country infected with Yellow Fever. Recommendations can vary from country to country; if such a destiny is part of your travel plans, you should look into the Yellow Fever requirements for that specific country. (4)

I have been a global-trotter for most of my adult life. In the past 25 years, I have been fortunate to have traveled to over 40 countries. I have never been asked for a vaccine record, nor have I felt the need for any vaccines, even when traveling to a far, exotic destination.

Final advice? Remember to pack your passport, sunglasses and favorite book. It is fun and risky to get sick before going away from many vaccinations.