News & Press: Urgent Care News

Make Travel Health Part of Patient Conversations

Tuesday, November 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: UCA via CDC
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Talk to your patients about their health before, during, and after travel

 

International travel is becoming more frequent among Americans. In 2017, US residents took about 87.7 million international trips. The volume of flights to Africa, Asia, and South America continues to grow at a fast pace, increasing Americans’ potential exposure to infectious and travel-related diseases.

 

Healthcare providers can do more to help patients understand the health risks of traveling abroad. “Many US travelers do not realize that they can be exposed to infectious diseases when traveling internationally…diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, typhoid, and dengue,” said Dr. Gary Brunette, chief of CDC’s Travelers’ Health Branch. “Furthermore, many US travelers may not know that they have even contracted an infection until after they return home, when symptoms start to show. This is a public health concern because international travelers can bring diseases to the United States that aren’t usually found here and put our communities at risk.”

 

In recent years, news media have brought attention to disease outbreaks that spread rapidly around the world. Some of these diseases, including Zika and Ebola, have reached the United States. Such outbreaks spark national conversations about how to slow the spread of disease and prevent importation of infectious diseases that are rarely seen in the US. These conversations must continue, even in the absence of global outbreaksand they should be taking place between patients and providers.

 

CDC Travelers’ Health Branch offers tools and resources that healthcare providers can use to guide pre- and post-travel consultations with patients. These downloadable materials are available on the CDC Think Travel website.

 

“We encourage healthcare providers to have travel health conversations with their patients to discuss their health before and after a trip abroad,” Brunette said. “Health professionals can make sure that travelers are aware of the vaccinations and medications they need to get (depending on their travel destination) and actions they can take while abroad to mitigate risk.”

 

CDC recommends that health professionals include travel questions in regular checkups and patient visits and during pre-travel consultations by asking patients about 

  • Trip destination and length
  • Special activities planned, such as providing medical care or disaster relief
  • Immunization history
  • Underlying conditions, allergies, and medications
  • Special conditions, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, a disability, chronic illness, or recent surgery
  • Travel history

 

Health professionals also can use the following questions with patients presenting with illness who may have returned from a trip outside the United States:

  • When did your symptoms start?
  • When did you return from your trip?
  • Where did you travel, and how long were you there?
  • What activities did you do?
  • Did you get any medical care while you were abroad?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • What vaccines did you get before traveling?
  • Were you prescribed malaria prophylaxis, and did you take it as directed?
  • Did you use an EPA-registered insect repellent?
  • Were your accommodations protected from mosquitoes (air conditioning, intact screens) or did you use a bed net?  
  • What were the sources of your drinking water?
  • Were you exposed to any animals?

 

Questions such as these can help raise awareness about travel health and encourage travelers to be prepared for their next trip abroad. Identifying potential travel-related exposures may help clinicians consider alternate causes for a patient’s illness, including infections uncommon in the United States. Taking a few minutes to inquire about travel health can help keep patients healthy and our communities safe from disease outbreaks.

For more information about the Think Travel campaign and to access other CDC resources, visit cdc.gov/travel or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), TTY: 888-232-6348.


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