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

Travel Health Journal

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Travel and Rabies: An Ongoing Concern

When rabies comes up in conversations, it’s often in veterinary clinics where our pets are vaccinated against infection. Rabies however, is also a major concern for travellers. More than 150 countries report rabies in their animal population putting humans at risk. The majority of human rabies cases are reported from Asia and Africa and 99% of cases are from dog bites. The World Health Organization estimates that 55,000 people die annually, although the illness is often misdiagnosed or under-reported. On a positive note though, the WHO states that 15 million people worldwide receive the post-exposure vaccinations, preventing an estimated 327 000 deaths annually. It’s not only travellers going on eco-tourism or adventure expeditions that are at risk. In many ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Thinking About the Spread of Dengue and its Prevention

The recent dengue outbreaks, notably in the Philippines, USA (Key West), India (Delhi), and China (Guangdong province) got us thinking about why infection rates are on the increase and how the disease is spreading to areas previously believed safe from the virus. The dengue virus is primarily spread by infected female AĆ«des aegypti (urban domestic) mosquitoes that bite during the day (dawn to dusk) both indoors and outdoors. The disease has become a major economic burden and serious public health concern in tropical and sub-tropical areas. According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 50 million infections worldwide each year and 2.5 billion people are at risk of contracting dengue. However, under-reporting (because the patient did not receive ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Polio No Longer A Real Threat? Think Again

The recent polio (poliomyelitis) outbreaks in Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia) are reminders of how travel and migration can contribute to the re-emergence of a disease in a region previously declared free of infection. In Tajikistan, for example, the country was declared polio free in 2002, but this year alone 239 children became paralyzed and 15 patients have died of the disease imported from India. The disturbing news is that since 2003 there have been 25 countries – originally declared polio free – that have been re-infected. (Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Cameroon, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea are some of the countries that have since taken steps to control the reappearance of polio.) Travellers ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Spotlight on South Africa

Counting down the days to the start of the Soccer World Cup tournament? This year it’s being held in South Africa from June 11 to July 11. It’s one of the few events that brings out extreme emotions among fans, and like other world sporting events, this tournament will bring attention to the country’s natural beauty, history, and cultures. Travellers are asking us about our recommendations on how to stay healthy in South Africa. In case you need to see a doctor, you’ll find that healthcare standards in the country vary between large urban centres and remote areas. High quality care is the norm in cities while in rural areas medical care tends to be basic. IAMAT doctors are ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Reflections on World Malaria Day

Malaria infection continues to be the biggest health threat to travellers going to malaria endemic countries. As travellers, we are equipped with knowledge about prevention methods, the geographic distribution of malaria, and we also have access to prophylactic medication and bed net protection. But what about people living in malaria areas? As we take a moment to consider World Malaria Day on April 25, there are mixed reviews regarding the state of malaria control and eradication initiati Decade to Roll Back Malaria This year marks the end of the ‘Decade to Roll Back Malaria’ declared by the United Nations. While progress has been made, this preventable disease continues to infect between 250 – 350 million people every year where ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Measles: Closer To Home Than You Think

Measles continues to be a threat all over the world, even making resurgences close to home. During the last decade we have seen measles outbreaks in places where this disease is considered a rare occurrence. The most recent cases were reported in Vancouver, British Columbia, and San Francisco and Amador Counties in California. Two factors explain the resurgence of measles in our communities: International travel and lack of immunization. The cases in Vancouver show that people who contracted the infection were not vaccinated or did not follow-up with the second dose required for effective protection. Add travel to the mix and you have the recipe for spreading this highly contagious disease. Here at home, even if you are not ...

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 ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Going to Haiti to Help? Health Advice for Aid Workers

We’ve been getting many online inquiries from people who are getting ready for aid missions in Haiti. Emergency relief efforts are underway to help Haitians recover from the devastating earthquake of January 12. Prior to the earthquake, Haitians were already struggling with access to health care, clean water, and proper sanitation. Only 11 percent of the population had access to water in their homes and the median life expectancy is 60 years. While the death toll continues to mount and survivors have to rebuild their lives, there is hope that reconstruction efforts can be done in such a way that Haitians affected by the earthquake will have universal access to proper shelter, food, and clean water. So what do ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Medical Travel, Travel Medicine, What’s The Difference?

You can understand the confusion. Similar name, different medical specialty. Chances are you have heard these terms before, largely due to the prominence of low-cost, affordable international travel. But what exactly are medical travel and travel medicine? Medical travel (also known as medical tourism, global healthcare, and health tourism), involves patients who seek health care abroad for a variety of reasons, including the high cost of medical treatments and long waiting times back home, their insurance plans do not cover certain procedures, or they want quick access to cutting-edge medical technology available in other countries. Normally encompassing elective procedures such as cosmetic surgery, dental surgery, fertility or alternative medicine treatments, medical tourism is becoming increasingly popular for patients requiring ...

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Planning a Trip to Central or South America?

Are you planning a trip to the jungles of South America or doing extended hiking and camping in Central America? You may be at risk of Chagas’ Disease. Transmitted by the Triatoma insect, which typically bites its victims on the face at night, the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite enters your bloodstream and affects organ tissues, most commonly the heart. Found in forest ecosystems and poorly built homes, including huts and cabins, the Triatoma insect is commonly known as ‘vinchuca’ in Spanish or ‘barbeiro’ in Portuguese. In North America, we know it as the ‘assassin bug’ or ‘conenose bug’, but here it does not carry the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Chagas’ Disease affects between 16-18 million people. ...