Staying safe and healthy overseas will mean that you can make the most of your placement. It is extremely important therefore that you discuss your itinerary with your GP as soon as possible, but at least 6 weeks before departure, to review any current diseases, medications, and any allergies. Vaccinations & immunisations vary widely depending on your destination and previous medical history; your GP will be able to give you up-to-date info on any required jabs. There are a number of websites that give general advice on vaccinations and recommendations, a few of which are listed below:
World Health Organisation – International Travel and Health Detailed website containing health advice as well as general information regarding your chosen destination.
Fit for Travel Compiled and updated by a team of experts from the NHS. www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk It is strongly recommended that if you’re placement is based in a malarial area, you should take preventative measures in terms of both physical protection (insect repellent, sleeping net etc) and drug prevention. Please bear in mind that you need to plan ahead if you intend to travel on to a malarial area after your placement. Please see following site for further information.
There are two vaccinations, which are not compulsory, but are often queried by doctors, Hepatitis B and Rabies. Hepatitis B is a serious infection of the liver, prevalent in many parts of the world. It is spread through contact with contaminated blood (including sharing needles with contaminated blood or using inadequately sterilised equipment) or sexual contact. A vaccination is available but not routinely recommended for travellers unless they belong to a high risk category, remain in an endemic area for longer than about six months or engage in activities that carry a high risk of accidents, injury or occupational exposure to blood.
Rabies occurs throughout the world. It’s usually contracted through being bitten or scratched by an infected mammal, such as bat, cat or fox, but usually by the bite of an infected domestic dog. The incubation period is usually 2 to 3 months, but it can vary from a few days to a few years. A total of three injections are needed, the first two with an interval of one week, and the last one three weeks later. Please note that if you are bitten, you will need treatment for rabies whether or not you have received a pre-travel rabies vaccination. However, if you have received the pre-travel vaccine the number of individual post-bite injections will be reduced.
Please see the WHO website for further information (website address above). Please make sure you keep your immunisation certificates with your passport for use during your travels and as a record for the future.
To avoid any potential problems through loss/ theft, you should also take two photocopies of these records, leave one at home with your emergency contact and take a copy with you (store separately from the original!).
Suggested additional reading:
Travellers Health – Richard Dawood (Oxford University Press)
ABC of Healthy Travel – E.Walker, G.Williams, F.Raeside (BMJ publishing group)
The Tropical Traveller – John Hatt (Penguin)
This information sheet is provided for general information only, and should in no way be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or other health care professional. Epic Adventures is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.