Suitcases are packed, passports are up-to-date and the airport is in sight. But have you forgotten to prepare your health before you jet off?
- Mosquitoes are public enemy number one. They are carriers of some of the world’s most deadly diseases, including malaria, which killed more than 400,000 people annually in 2015 and 2016.1 Take necessary travel vaccination precautions, see your family doctor about anti-malaria medications, pack insect repellent and wear light clothes that cover your arms and legs at dusk to avoid risk of infection.2,3
- Safe drinking water is a luxury. About 30% of the world’s population don’t have access to a safely managed drinking-water service – that is, one located on premises, available when needed, and free from contamination.4 The best thing is to plan ahead and buy sealed bottled water when travelling in areas with unsafe drinking water. Also, don’t use tap water to brush your teeth and avoid drinks that contain ice.5
- Make it a habit to wash your hands regularly. Bacteria and viruses can be transferred from hand to mouth. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you on your travels for when soap and water aren’t available.5
- Water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, Hepatitis A and dysentery can be found in popular travel destinations, like South East Asia, the Pacific and South America.6 Eat smart overseas. For example, in countries with untreated water and lower levels of hygiene, avoid raw foods and fruit and vegetables that can’t be peeled.5
- Practicing safe sex with a condom is essential for those who have sexual contact with new partners to help protect against sexually transmitted infections.7
- Getting sick and being stuck overseas can be a nightmare. Visit your family doctor to discuss vaccination at least six weeks before you leave.8 In addition, many countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have been in (or travelled through) endemic yellow fever areas.8 Bottom line: vaccines help prevent many common illnesses. Make arrangements to be protected.
- Travel insurance is as important as your passport. While most Canadians travel safely overseas, if you do come into danger you want to be covered. Consider taking out travel insurance before you depart on your holiday.6
- World Health Organization. Malaria. Key Facts. (2018) http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria
- Government of Canada. Travel Health and Safety. Insect Bite Prevention. (2016) https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/insect-bite
- Government of Canada. Malaria. Prevention of Malaria. (2016) https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/malaria.html
- World Health Organization. Drinking-water. Key Facts. (2018) http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water
- Government of Canada. Travel Health and Safety. Eat and Drink Safely Abroad. (2018) https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/food-water
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Condoms and STDs: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel. https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/docs/Condoms_and_STDS.pdf
- Government of Canada. Travel Health and Safety. Travel Vaccinations. (2017) https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/vaccines
- Government of Canada. Destinations. Brazil. (2018) https://travel.gc.ca/destinations-print/brazil