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I'm Hitting the Road,
Give Me the Works, Doc!
(Immunization for Travellers)

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

This article originally appeared on page 19 in the March 20-21, 2004 issue of
The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Wellness, Doctor's Cor

It is that time of year when everyone is traveling to destinations around the globe. Here is a list of things to worry about:

Anthrax Avian Flu
Chlamydia Cholera
Cytomegalovirus Diphtheria
E. coli Infection E. Coli Enteritis H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori)
Haemophilus Disease
H. influenzae type b (Hib)
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Influenza - The Flu (Flu) Japanese Encephalitis
Lyme Disease Malaria
Measles (Rubeola) Meningococcal Disease
Mumps Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Pneumococcal Disease Poliomyelitis
Rabies Rhinovirus (Common Cold)
Rubella (German Measles) Smallpox
Staphylococcal Disease Tetanus
Tuberculosis (TB = Tubercle Bacillus) Typhoid Fever
Varicella (Chickenpox) Yellow Fever

Any distant travel potentially exposes us to diseases that we would normally never see. This is a list of diseases that cause significant burden in the world. It would certainly make medical practice simpler if people could avoid this group. What makes this list really interesting is that there is a vaccine on the market or in clinical trials for each and every one of these entities. Vaccines come in many forms: injections, drops, sprays and tonics. Many are without significant side effects, but some are less effective than others.

I would like to pre-empt all the anti-vaccine email by stating that I am not advocating for a universal immunization program to include all these agents. People are often surprised by just how many shots and visits it would take to give them "the works". I recommend the website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta as a starting point. It lists recommended health precautions according to regions of travel. It also gives updated outbreak information. For more urgent or unusual cases, I refer to my local Travel Clinic, which can provide most or the required agents.

Many of these diseases have truly shaped the historic settlement of Canada. I, for one, do imagine what the world would be like free of these diseases. Have a safe spring break.


Related resources:

Communicable Disease Fact Sheet.
Preventing Infectious Diseases Fact Sheet.
Water intoxication from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Small Pox, Bubonic Plague, Typhoid Fever, Cholera from Quarantine Station, Sydney, Australia.
Safety Advice for Backpackers from BBC News.
Travel Health Advice for Backpackers from travelhealth.co.uk.
● The Travel Doctor in UK provides advice on Travellers Diseases.
Travellers' Diarrhoea.
Vaccine Information.
Malaria Information.
Yellow Fever.
Respiratory Tract Infections.
Insect Borne Diseases, and other topics.

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