Nowadays, as a result of the technological advance and the global interconnection, travels to tropical and subtropical areas of the planet, in which poverty and overcrowding make the transmission of infectious diseases possible, are more frequent every day.
This situation brings along the risk of transmission of these diseases to people who are traveling, favoring these kind of epidemics.
Which are the risk factors?
1) Disseminated water and food that can transmit parasites and bacteria responsible of diarrhea and parasitic diseases.
2) Mosquitos (as for example Aedes Aegypti), that are the carriers of Dengue, Malaria or Yellow Fever.
How to prevent the transmission of these diseases?
- It is important to be in contact with the family doctor or pediatrician from 6 to 8 weeks before travelling to assess, according to the itinerary and how much time you are planning to stay there, the need for vaccination or for the prescription of protective antibiotic medicines as for the case of Malaria.
- Children with chronic or important diseases must take a copy of their medical history.
- Use of repellents and metabolic nets (mosquito nets) in regions where mosquitos are abundant.
- Use of cotton and long sleeved clothes, as well as long pants.
- Avoid the use of sandals. Choose shoes or sneakers if you are going to take a long walk in areas with abundant vegetation or swamps.
- Maintain the skin clean. Wash your hands before eating.
- Travels to some areas of Latin America, Asia and Africa are associated with an increase of gastrointestinal infections (diarrheas), that is why it is recommended:
- In babies that are still being breastfed, continue with breastfeeding during the trip.
- Boil water or drink mineral water.
- In public places choose carbonated water (soda) or hot tea or coffee.
- Eat cooked food. Avoid raw fish or seafood.
- Fruits must be peeled and vegetables thoroughly washed (with boiled or mineral water).
- Do not eat food from peddlers.
- It is wise to take rehydration salts to prevent dehydration.
Which are the available vaccines?
Appart from the compulsory calendar vaccines, there exist other vaccines for different diseases.
Chicken Pox. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Cholera, Typhoid fever,
Rabies, Meningococcal Disease, Pneumococcal Disease, Influenza (flu vaccine).
The underlined vaccines can be necessary for travels to areas of high risk, always depending on the itinerary and how much time you are going to stay in said places.
From all the vaccines, the only one that can be officially requested as a condition to come into a country is the vaccine for Yellow Fever.
This is a live attenuated viral vaccine that provides almost 100% immunity. The single dose provides protection for a period of 10 years.
It is contraindicated in children younger than 4 months, being this the reason why it is advisable to postpone a travel to an area of high risk if you have a child of this age.
The contraindication is also for pregnant women.