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SMG News

Preparing for Travel Abroad

Last updated: Jul 24, 2018

If you’re planning to travel outside the United States this summer, a travel medicine specialist can give you important information to help you protect your health. In addition to giving you protective shots (travel vaccinations) and preventive medicines, your doctor can make recommendations based on your age, medical history, overall health, destinations, and activities and length of your trip. He or she also will tell you about health risks in certain countries and explain how you can help protect yourself from them. 

Summit Medical Group infectious diseases expert Daniel Hart, MD, recommends seeing a travel medicine specialist 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. "It’s important to bring your trip itinerary with you to the visit so your doctor can tailor advice to your specific plans,” says Dr. Hart. He adds, "If you have received prior vaccinations, let your doctor know. A booster may or may not be needed."

"Receiving the appropriate vaccinations and medication prior to travel can help protect you from illness,” notes Dr. Hart; "We want your trip to be memorable – for the right reasons!"

When traveling abroad, follow safe food and water practices, including:

  • Eating packaged and freshly cooked, hot foods
  • Avoiding raw and undercooked meats and seafood, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, and food from street vendors
  • Avoiding tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes 
  • Drinking, brushing teeth, washing dishes, preparing food, and making ice only with bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water
    and bottled/canned carbonated beverages with an unbroken seal
  • Boiling water for 1 minute or filtering it and adding half an iodine tablet per liter
    (about 33 ounces or four 8-oz glasses) 

 To protect yourself from insect bites:

  • Use bug spray that contains either DEET (30% to 33%), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus/PMD, or IR3535
  • Follow all label instructions, including reapplying DEET as instructed to lengthen your protection
  • Wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat when you’re outdoors
  • Spray your clothing with a mixture containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent;
  • Stay in a screened area or use insect repellent frequently, especially at dusk and dawn when many bugs are out
  • Sleep under a net sprayed with permethrin
  • Spray rooms with products containing pyrethrin to help eliminate flying insects

Although bug sprays with a higher concentration of active ingredient protect longer against mosquito bites, concentrations higher than 50% cannot protect you for longer periods. Products with less than 10% of an active ingredient may only protect you for 2 hours or less.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our travel medicine specialists, please call Summit Medical Group Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine at 973-436-1719 for Livingston or 908-277-8654 for Berkeley Heights.

For advice on children age 15 years and younger, please contact Summit Medical Group Pediatrics at 908-273-4300 for an appointment.