Local doctor gives tips for travel health

News Photo by Mike Gonzalez The travel agency within AAA Alpena on U.S.-23 is shown on Wednesday. Currently, no employees work in that department in Alpena, but employees within the insurance office will transfer you to a different office’s travel agent.

ALPENA — As spring break draws closer and closer, students, families, and individuals are getting ready to travel to warmer locations, with some people going out of the country.

Traveling to foreign places can potentially lead to illness, disease, and more that the body may not be used to.

“The most common illnesses that you get with travel are respiratory illnesses,” Dr. Josh Meyerson, medical director of District Health Department No. 4, said. “Things you can do for that is just regular hand washing, which can help reduce the risk of evolving respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.”

Meyerson said some locations, particularly developing countries, may have water and food concerns.

According to him, traveler’s diarrhea is a common ailment when consuming contaminated food or water.

“If the water sources may not be safe, you should really just be drinking bottled water and avoiding ice, because ice can be made from unsafe water,” Meyerson said. “Even if you’re getting a … soda from a can, but you’re pouring it over ice, that can be a problem, too. Eating foods that have been fully cooked or if you’re eating fresh fruits, you want to be able to wash or peel them. Otherwise, it might get you sick.”

Another thing Meyerson recommended is to protect the body from insect bites and sunburns.

Sunscreen will protect the body from burns, but it’s crucial to protect the skin from mosquito bites and other insects to prevent any diseases from going into the body’s system.

“If you’re going to a tropical area to get out of the winter, mosquito bites and other insects can spread diseases like malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, dengue, and Lyme disease,” Meyerson said. “Using protection against insect bites can prevent you from getting sick.”

Other areas for travelers to consider are things like immunizations.

To research a specific country to see whether there are warnings on current outbreaks of diseases, Meyerson said that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a travel site that can help people get health notices for a country.

The website cdc.gov/travel also provides routing vaccines that travelers are recommended to have up-to-date, such as chickenpox, flu, polio, shingles, and more.

“There are always steps you can try to take for traveling that can reduce the chance that you’ll get sick during your vacation,” Meyerson said. “People going off to more exotic places, they certainly would want to look at what the precautions they might need to take based on their location and the CDC’s traveler’s health page has a lot of great information.”


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