Are you thinking of taking a trip outside the United States? While travel to places such as Europe and Canada may not pose many serious or unusual health risks, other common destinations for U.S. travelers, such as the Caribbean, are facing new health challenges. (Chikungunya and dengue are two potentially serious illnesses spread by mosquitoes, that visitors to the Caribbean should protect themselves against). And, business, medical, missionary, scientific and vacation travelers to more remote and exotic regions of the world can be exposed to new health risks that may need to considered for prevention.
The Travel Medicine Clinics at UTMB Health can help identify the various risks of a traveler’s specific itinerary, and then make recommendations to help avoid potential problems.
There are three Travel Medicine Clinics run by infectious disease experts from the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.
What is Travel Medicine?
Travel medicine is a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on the needs of travelers, particularly those who travel to other countries.
Generally, physicians and others who specialize in travel medicine are experts in infectious diseases, as is the case at UTMB. UTMB is recognized internationally as one of the world's leading institutions for the study of infectious diseases and emerging disease threats, and is home to a number of centers and scientific programs that address the types of maladies that a traveler may experience [read more about UTMB's programs].
Our expertise often includes knowledge of specific geographical locations and information about health conditions and disease outbreaks in different countries. Travel medicine specialists also know requirements for foreign countries related to vaccinations, health reports, availability of medications, and other healthcare treatments for diseases and disorders.
For people planning to travel out of the US, particularly to the developing countries within Africa, Asia, and Latin America, it is extremely important to talk with a travel medicine specialist as far in advance of your trip as possible; six weeks before travel is UTMB's recommendation when possible.
What services does the Travel Medicine Clinic at UTMB provide?
Our travel clinic administers and offers expertise in vaccines to prevent exotic diseases such as yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, typhoid, and rabies. Young travelers, particularly small children, need to have their immunization schedules up to date, as deadly childhood illnesses (diphtheria, measles, polio, and mumps) are still problematic in some nations. The yellow fever vaccine requires certification in order to be accepted as evidence of immunity in some countries before entry. And, prophylaxis against malaria involves the use of unusual antimalarial drugs rather than vaccination.
The clinic can also offer valuable "tips" that can save a traveler major headaches. For example, did you know that your can of bugspray can explode in your luggage at 40,000 feet? What medications might be advisable to take for unforeseen ailments (diarrhea, seasickness, or nausea) for a young traveler vs. someone in their 60s? What does one need to do about movement of prescribed drugs across international borders? Where does one go in Malawi if he/she has a heart attack?
Although the US government (and our web site) provides good and current information for the health and safety of US travelers, it does not replace having a personal relationship with a physician who is knowledgeable about the needs of people who travel abroad. The Travel Medicine Clinic at UTMB can--and would be honored--to fill this need for you.
Consulting with the Travel Clinic, part of the Infectious Disease Division at UTMB, can be a smart investment, enabling you to save valuable time, avoid unnecessary illness, and prevent your trip abroad from becoming a personal disaster. The clinic provides the required certifications and the necessary medical paperwork for international travel.
Remember, vaccines need time to become effective and only a certain number can be given during one visit. If you're planning a major trip, seek advice at the clinic at least six weeks before your departure to be sure there is adequate time to take the vaccines, acquire needed medications, and become knowledgeable about the risks and prevention of disease during your trip.