It is essential to learn about the risks of catching diseases abroad and how to protect yourself from them.
What should you discuss with your doctor before you leave?
Are you leaving soon for a stay in a tropical country?
Are you planning to travel in precarious conditions? In both cases, a medical consultation is recommended to prevent risks and ensure that your trip is going as smoothly as possible. The discussion can be made with your family doctor or a travel medicine center. It will be an opportunity to learn about the various illnesses to which you may be exposed at your destination and the steps you can take to prevent them. Your doctor will check that your vaccinations are up to date and can do more.
If the country you are visiting is affected by malaria (also known as malaria), it will prescribe a malaria medication for you to take either preventively or in case of symptoms on the spot.
You will also take stock of your other current treatments and renew your prescriptions to ensure that you have enough medication during the trip.
Get a head start!
Do not consult your doctor at the last minute, as vaccines require several weeks in advance to be effective at the time of departure.
For a short trip, a consultation about two weeks before departure is recommended.
If you stay for several months, it is better to plan 4 to 6 weeks in advance, because you may need to make more vaccines and a delay between injections may be necessary. If you go to the doctor too late, he or she may in some cases suggest an accelerated vaccination schedule. This consists in shortening the time between injections, often by adding injection compared to the traditional pattern.
If you are pregnant
Some personal situations require specific precautions to be taken, to be discussed with your doctor before departure. If you are pregnant, weigh the pros and cons before traveling to a tropical country, especially if it is an area affected by malaria. It is not the ideal time to undertake this type of travel, even if proper preparation can reduce the risks. Malaria, but also certain waterborne and foodborne infections (toxoplasmosis, listeriosis, hepatitis A, hepatitis E) are particularly dangerous in pregnant women.
They can lead to miscarriages, fetal malformations, premature births and even death of the pregnant woman. Moreover, the precariousness of medical facilities in some countries is a risk in the event of complications during your pregnancy. If your trip is necessary, protect yourself scrupulously against malaria and foodborne infections. Your prevention against malaria and possible vaccinations should be adapted to your condition. The best time to travel is the second trimester of pregnancy.
If you travel with children
Infectious diseases in young children can progress more rapidly than adults, especially in malaria. Young children will also tend to dehydrate more quickly if they suffer from diarrhea. For these reasons, it is preferable not to travel to a tropical country with an infant under one year of age, or if this is the case, that the child is always breastfed to reduce the risk of infection.
Before going on a trip with a child, locate health facilities close to your destination that can accommodate you in case of an emergency. Ask your doctor for advice on how to recognize signals that will alert you if your child is suffering. Finally, keep in mind that the risk does not only come from infectious diseases but can also be linked to a fall or a road accident for example. So be vigilant!
If you are sick or elderly
If you have a chronic illness, it is recommended that you assess with a doctor your ability to travel and determine with him/her what precautions to take. This is especially true if you have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, cancer or HIV-AIDS, have had your spleen removed, are transplanted and are taking immunosuppressive therapy.
The risk of contracting an infectious disease or suffering from severe symptoms increases with age. However, if you are in good health, being old shouldn’t discourage you from traveling. Check with your doctor early enough and follow his advice, knowing that heart problems can be a serious problem.