Flu vaccine

What you need to KNOW about the flu shot this year

Here’s what you need to know about the flu shot so you can stay healthy this flu season. No, it’s not too soon to get one. Flu can begin anytime in September thru June. In tropic areas it occurs year round so if you travel to the tropics or flu in an airplane that has someone in it that has, you can get exposed to the flu anytime. No, it won’t wear off if you get it now. The reason you get a flu shot every year is because the flu mutates into different forms not because it “wears off”. No, you...

air plane passengers

5 Travel Tips That Will Make You Smile

These 5 travel tips will make your next trip a bit easier. Get the best seat for your money Ever pick a seat on one plane and find its pretty comfortable and then find the same seat on another leg of your trip is totally different? Different planes have different seat configurations. When you choose your seat use  http://www.seatguru.com/ to help you. Carry on I almost never check a bag. Like most people I don’t like worrying if my bag will get lost and don’t want to wait at baggage claim to retrieve it either. My standard carry on of 21 x...

10 Tips to Get Thru TSA

Long lines, frustrated TSA workers and travelers make beginning or ending a trip less pleasant. Here are 10 tips  to get you through TSA a little easier. Know what  can you bring through the TSA check point and don’t bring in anything you can’t. Can’t get through with just two pieces?Wear your biggest shoes, tie a sweater around your waist, and wear your jacket. Layer a t shirt under a shirt. Carry another item in your arms. If you’re wearing any top with a zipper or button, they will ask you to remove it (if you have something underneath). If it’s a bulky...

How to Choose and Use Insect Repellent

Whether you are traveling or just getting ready for Spring and Summer, you need to choose and use insect repellents to prevent getting bit. Avoiding bites from mosquitoes and ticks helps to prevent infections such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya, malaria, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and more. Any product can be called a repellent. Buy one with DEET, Picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or These products have been tested for both safety and effectiveness by the US government. Read the label for safe use. DEET (20-30%) can be used on children 2 months and older while oil of lemon eucalyptus is not...

How I Got Bit

As a travel health specialist, it is helpful to travel to places where my patients go. I have been spending so much time teaching people about insect precautions especially since the warnings about the Zika virus that I was convinced I would not be bitten while on my recent medical mission trip to Nicaragua. I sprayed my clothes with permetherin before I packed. I brought plenty of DEET over 30%. I applied it before I even landed in Managua so I was fully prepared when I touched down. (A common omission is that people wait until they arrive at their...

Sunscreen and Bug Spray for Tropical Travel

Don't forget your sunblock and insect repellent. This is the time of year people are heading to warmer places. Just a reminder that in many Caribbean and Central American airports, once you’re off the plane – you’re out doors. You may walk to the terminal or be in an open bus. You may be in a building with doors, but they are constantly opening and closing. Not much protection from mosquitos there.  You may be under an overhang waiting in line for passport control, but you could also be standing in the sun. Don’t wait to put on your sunblock and bug...

Injectable Typhoid Vaccine Shortage

If you are traveling to low resource countries, you need to protect yourself from typhoid fever. There are 2 vaccines that you can take– an injectable form that lasts for 2 years and an oral form that lasts for 5 years.  They are equally protective. The oral vaccine is a series of 4 capsules taken every other day. It takes a week to take them and a week more to take effect. They need to be taken on an empty stomach and be refrigerated. To help remind you to take the pills, there is a free text messaging service from the manufacturer....

Zika Virus -CDC Warnings for Travelers

As if malaria, dengue and chikungunya weren’t enough, we now have Zika virus (pronounced ZEE ka) to worry about. These infections are all transmitted by mosquito bites.  What makes Zika different is that while Zika infection lasts about a week and causes rash, red eyes, fever, joint and muscle pains, it causes severe birth defects and miscarriages in pregnant women.  The problem is significant enough that the CDC has issued a travel warning for pregnant women traveling to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. It is spreading fast...

Did you forget something?

Lots of things that you don’t plan for can happen on a trip. So you’ve gotten your vaccines, packed hand sanitizer, taken out travel health insurance and packed a first aid kit. Did you bring condoms? Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), including HIV, are widespread worldwide. Obviously, the best way to prevent STI’s is to avoid exposure. Otherwise, condoms are a must. Many countries sell them in stores and through vending machines. But be safe. Bring your own. If you have an unintended exposure, get tested when you get home and practice safe sex until you are sure you haven’t brought anything unexpected home...