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Dr. Robert Winters has been in private-practice in Santa Monica since 1992 and is Board-Certified in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine.

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Minimizing Health Risk With International Travel

International travel requires awareness of the many risks inherent in visiting foreign countries. Many risks are unavoidable, including issues related to weather, transportation, security, and health. For those truly `unavoidable’ risks, I subscribe to the “Prepare For the Unexpected” theory as best as one can, then let your adventure unfold.

 

As a physician, I am always in favor of minimizing risk by preventing those medical problems that have recognized prevention strategies. As an infection specialist, I strongly support the use of vaccines; I believe the data is convincing that routine childhood vaccinations have dramatically reduced the incidence of common infectious diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, polio, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, etc. The same argument applies to the international traveler- avoid/prevent common infectious diseases as best as one is able. Pre-travel vaccinations are an important consideration for disease prevention.

 

There are many possible infectious diseases one can encounter with international travel. My position would be to prevent those illnesses where a prevention strategy is available, whether by vaccination, drug therapy. chemical agents, dietary regulation, or by choice of  clothing. Examples of specific preventative measures include:

 

  1. Vaccinations to prevent Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid Fever, Meningococcal  Disease, Influenza, Polio, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis and Yellow Fever.              
  2. Drug therapy to prevent malaria and travelers’ diarrhea
  3. Chemical agents as insect repellents and antiseptics.
  4. Dietary restrictions to avoid contaminated food and water                                  .
  5. Clothing choices to prevent insect bites/stings, skin trauma and excess sun/water exposure

This list is in no means complete. My goal is to help explain the difference between unavoidable risk and those areas where risk can be managed and possibly eliminated by intelligent decision making. Do not let a one-time trip turn into a lifelong problem. RAW

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