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

Travel Health Journal

Responsible Tourism

Black and white image of a dog looking at the viewer.

5 misconceptions about Rabies

Rabies is one of the most deadly infections known to humans. It’s also 100% preventable. Rabies has been recognized in humans since 2000 B.C. Despite its long history, it continues to cause approximately 59,000 deaths a year, mostly among children. The virus that causes Rabies is present around the world (with the exception of Antarctica) and all mammals are susceptible to infection. This World Rabies Day, find out the truth behind 5 common misconceptions so you can stay informed and help others stay safe. We take a look at why Rabies is still a concern, how travellers are at risk, and what you can do to be prepared. 1. Rabies is only transmitted by animal bites: FALSE. Rabies is ...

Map of Yellow Fever risk areas from IAMAT's World Immunization Chart (March 2018)

World Immunization Week: Yellow Fever updates and news

In celebration of World Immunization Week, we highlight the essential nature of vaccines by exploring some recent news and updates for the Yellow Fever vaccine. A combination of climate change, urbanization, and increases in international air travel have accelerated the global spread of many mosquito-borne viruses including Yellow Fever, Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya. No antiviral therapy exists for Yellow Fever, but the infection can be prevented with a vaccine. Despite this, a global vaccine shortage has made managing the disease a challenge. As responsible travellers, we have an important role to play in preventing the spread of Yellow Fever and many other vaccine-preventable diseases. Yellow Fever Yellow Fever is a viral infection transmitted to humans by daytime biting Aedes ...

Two hands with water. Photo by Tiburi, Pixabay.

Are you a water-responsible traveller?

Every year on March 22, the United Nations celebrates the importance of water through World Water Day. Clean water and access to safe water sources are essential for the health and growth of communities, but almost a third of the global population continues to lack access to safe drinking water. As the effects of climate change contribute to greater water instability, this year’s World Water Day theme, “Nature for Water”, focuses on solving water-related issues through nature-based interventions such as landscape restoration, sustainable agriculture, and water disinfection practices. To celebrate World Water Day, we ask and answer: How can we be more water-responsible travellers? Travel and water use Travel gives us the opportunity to explore the connections we share ...

Person doing yoga on a wooden walkway. Photo by Marion Michele, Unsplash.

Preparing for your wellness retreat

Wellness retreats are becoming a popular way to travel and focus on personal health and wellbeing. Offering both escape and adventure, retreats are increasingly taking place in tropical and secluded locations around the world. Although wellness retreats are intended to improve your wellbeing, health risks are still present and can quickly derail your experience. Knowing the risks and being prepared can ensure you have a fulfilling and enjoyable trip. Wellness and tourism Wellness can be defined as an active process of growing one’s physical, mental, and social health. With more and more of us managing stress and living with chronic health conditions, interest in wellness has grown rapidly. This has led to an extensive wellness economy that offers products ...

Open door with red light. Photo by Mali Maeder.

Implications of Sexual Tourism

Within the last 20 years, the number of international travellers has more than doubled and is expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. The growth of the travel and tourism industry has many positive outcomes for individuals and their communities, but it can also increase risks among vulnerable populations, including women and children. A recent global study found that the rapid expansion of the travel industry has coincided with significant growth in sexual tourism, a pervasive form of exploitation that occurs around the world. Sexual tourism, particularly the kind that targets children, represents the unseemly underbelly of the travel industry. As global citizens and responsible travellers, we can help end this practice. What is sexual tourism? The term “sexual ...

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 ...

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