IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Travel Health Journal

Responsible Tourism

Person standing on a beach in a storm. Photo by Witch Kiki, Unsplash.

In the news: Extreme weather

This article is part of our monthly travel and global health news round-up. Here at IAMAT, our main focus is on travel health and not specifically on safety when abroad (there are many organizations and government departments that provide useful travel safety information). However, the two often overlap, and nowhere is this more evident than during extreme weather at popular travel destinations. Flooding, hurricanes, heat waves, and other weather events can have sudden and dramatic impacts on the health and safety of travellers and local people. Hurricanes and flooding Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria battered the Caribbean and the southern United States in September. Some locations suffered minimal damage and were ready to host travellers again within a week or ...

Sea turtle swimming through a reef. Photo by Scott Ruzzene, Unsplash.

In the news: Coral reefs and sunscreen, toilets, and accessible travel

This article is part of our monthly travel and global health news round-up. This month we look at some of the big questions in responsible travel: Why are coral reefs dying? How do toilets and sanitation affect me and the communities I visit? We also look at two facets of accessible travel: A step by step guide to travelling with MS and one expert’s thoughts on why accessible travel is so rewarding, despite its challenges. In the news this month 1. Is Your Sunscreen Poisoning the Ocean? The New York Times It’s well known that protecting yourself from sun exposure helps to prevent sun damage that can lead to skin cancer and other illnesses. Sunscreen is one of the main ...

Boat on the Amazon River. Photo by Kepler Web, FreeImages.

The Amazon: Staying well on your river cruise

River cruising in the rainforest The Amazon basin is a vast region that spans 9 countries. Travellers visit the region for its incredible biodiversity and the chance to experience wildlife and the rainforest firsthand. There’s no doubt about the amazing flora and fauna in the Amazon, but the confined spaces of a cruise ship and infections transmitted by insects, animals, and microorganisms can be a risk to your health. Here’s how to stay well as you explore. Staying healthy in the Amazon Most Amazon cruises begin in the city of Manaus, Brazil or Iquitos, Peru. In the Amazon region, the extent of some diseases (such as Schistosomiasis and Chagas) remains unknown. Luckily, you don’t have to leave your health ...

Girl with a book. Photo by Poodar Chu, Unsplash.

What we’re reading: The Chickens Fight Back

The kids are back in school and we’re also hitting the books! Some of our staff are reading The Chickens Fight Back: Pandemic Panics and Deadly Diseases that Jump from Animals to Humans. This fascinating read is by David Waltner-Toews, a veterinarian and epidemiologist at the University of Guelph specializing in zoonotic diseases. The Chickens Fight Back shows us our world from a different angle – how people co-exist with animals and infectious diseases. Zoonoses in the 21st century Zoonoses are diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans. (Animals can also get diseases from humans, as biological anthropologist Michael Muehlenbein mentions in our Ecotourism tipsheet). Some zoonotic diseases are transmitted directly from animals to humans (like Rabies) while ...

Photo by Judith Purcell

Comment: What’s your health footprint?

A trio of tropical diseases In November, the news website Vox published a fascinating story: Travel writer Henry Wismayer’s personal experience of getting typhoid, dengue, and schistosomiasis in the same year. His story piqued our interest – after all, one of our goals is to prevent these illnesses in travellers. Here’s a summary of the story, although we encourage you to read the full article on Vox. While travelling in Uttarakhand, India, Wismayer fell ill with typhoid but recovered with rest and treatment with antibiotics. A few weeks later in Hue, Vietnam, he came down with a severe bout of dengue fever and was hospitalized for two weeks. (If you’ve ever doubted the importance of preventing mosquito bites, Wismayer’s ...

ethical international volunteering

Ethical international volunteering checklist

Your responsibility as a traveller Your friend just got back from volunteering abroad – and it sounds like she had the trip of a lifetime. You’re excited to get your hands dirty, but before you book a trip, take a step back to assess why you’re volunteering and how your trip will affect the community you visit. Start by asking yourself: Why do I want to go abroad? What do I hope to achieve? Planning your ethical volunteer trip Every aspect of travel has an effect on your host community. You’ll be there temporarily but the people in the community will live with the long-term impacts of your volunteerism. Be realistic about your skills and be honest about what ...

is the water safe to drink

Is the water safe to drink?

In 2010, web designer and world traveller Pon Kattera approached us with a brilliant idea: What if our resources on the quality of drinking water were even easier for travellers to use? Fast forward to 2015 and the launch of Pon’s website Is the water safe to drink. It’s an easy-to-use site that lets you check the safety of drinking water around the world and it’s sourced from our comprehensive food and water safety data. We caught up with Pon to learn more about his travel experiences and why he decided to create this site.   IAMAT: What inspired you to create Is the water safe to drink? Pon: Too frequently, I find myself arriving in a new city ...

Everything you need to know about Schistosomiasis

If your next adventure will take you rafting or swimming in fresh water, you should know about Schistosomiasis. What do snails have to do with travel health? You’re familiar with Yellow Fever, Malaria, and Traveller’s Diarrhea, but here’s one travel health risk you may not have heard of: Schistosomiasis. Also known as Bilharzia, Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection transmitted by freshwater snails present in Africa and parts of Southeast Asia, South America, the Middle East, and some Caribbean islands. The culprit is the trematode flatworm parasite that is transmitted by small snails which are difficult to spot on the shores of lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. Coming into brief contact with fresh water contaminated with one of the eight ...

How to Avoid Medical Scams Abroad

Yesterday, Tullia Marcolongo, IAMAT’s Director of Programs and Development was asked by Sean O’Shea from Global TV’s Consumer SOS about avoiding medical scams abroad in light of recent reports from tourists being duped in Mexico. Some common medical scams experienced by travellers include: Taxi drivers taking commissions from private clinics to take ill tourists to their location. Doctors overcharging patients for consultations and suggesting unnecessary procedures. Clinics not accepting insurance coverage and asking for payment upfront by credit card or cash. Why is it important to be prepared with the names and locations of doctors and hospitals when people travel? In many countries the level of care is very different from what you expect back home. The standard of ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Health is Part of Being a Responsible Traveler

When we think about Responsible Tourism, promoting respect for the cultures and the environment of our destination country come to mind. Health on the other hand, is the other component that is not often talked about. Learning about the cultures, regional geography, languages, and customs is key to being a responsible traveler, as is informing yourself about the potential health risks at your destination. While we have the means to protect our health, we also need to be mindful of how our health status impacts the people we come across during our travels. When it comes to travel, getting immunized against vaccine preventable diseases is not only for your benefit, but also for the locals you encounter abroad. At ...

Travel Health Journal