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

Travel Health Journal

View from airplane window

True or false? The facts on airplane air, Yellow Fever, insurance, and street food

In this edition of True or false?, we take a closer look at myths about airplane air, Yellow Fever certificates, travel health insurance, and street food. Myth #1: “Breathing airplane air makes you sick.” A common misconception is that if one passenger on an airplane has an illness, then everyone else on the plane will get sick. These fears can be propelled by news stories such this one, when a flight carrying over 500 people was quarantined in New York due to sick passengers on board. The culprit of the illness, which hospitalized 11, was determined to be the flu. Is aircraft air to blame? Airplane cabins are confined spaces that may appear to be the perfect breeding ground ...

Lifecycle of triatomine

Chagas Disease: What is it and why should you care?

Travel health doesn’t exist in isolation. Many health risks encountered by travellers are the same ones that local residents are exposed to every day. One such risk is Chagas Disease. Although it’s a low risk to most short-term travellers, around 7 million people are infected worldwide – mostly in Central and South America. Due to increasing internal migration (from rural areas to urban areas) and across borders, Chagas has become an international health priority. In recognition of International Migrants Day, we explore the challenges of controlling Chagas Disease, its impact on global health, and how it disproportionately affects migrating populations. What is Chagas? Chagas Disease (also known as American Trypanosomiasis) is named after Dr. Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano Chagas, the ...

Understanding Travel Health Insurance: 26 Important Terms You Need to Know

You purchased travel health insurance coverage and are ready for your trip, but do you find yourself looking at pages and pages of fine print containing legal and medical jargon? Our latest resource Understanding Travel Health Insurance helps demystify some common terms found in insurance plans. It also includes helpful tips, advice, and questions to ask your insurer before you buy. It’s a crowded marketplace out there and finding the best coverage for your needs can be daunting. Unfortunately, travellers can find themselves out-of-pocket for medical care needed abroad because they didn’t understand their coverage. Our members have told us that policy terms and conditions have many exceptions and are difficult to understand. To help, we reviewed travel health ...

Cat bites and motorcycle crashes: Things I wish I knew before my trip

My name is Jacqueline and I’m a Research Assistant Intern at IAMAT in Toronto. I’m currently completing a post-graduate certificate at Centennial College in International Development, and hope to go on to work in the area of healthcare development around the world. My interest in healthcare was piqued during a recent 3 month trip through Southeast Asia, where I was exposed first-hand to some of the challenges that come with seeking health services abroad. About two weeks into my trip, I crashed the rental motorbike I had been riding into a rusted barbed wire fence. I was lucky to not have broken any bones or have sustained any serious injuries, but I did cut myself deeply on my legs ...

One Health: An introduction for travellers

What does “health” mean to you? Maybe it means getting vaccinated, having access to medical care, or staying in good physical shape. But what if “health” included the world around us too? One Health is a concept that supports the interconnection between the health of the environment, animals, and humans. It’s often defined as a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach that involves public health practitioners, scientists, veterinarians, and policymakers working together locally, regionally, and globally to improve health. In celebration of One Health Day this November 3rd, we take a look at the relationship between travel health and the One Health movement. Why is One Health important? A One Health approach considers the complexity and interconnectedness of global and environmental ...

Dr. Marybeth Maritim on the White Nile river in Uganda.

Meet Marybeth: Travel medicine beyond vaccines

Marybeth Maritim is a physician, university lecturer, and travel medicine practitioner in Nairobi, Kenya. We were thrilled to award her the 2018 IAMAT Violet Williams Travel Medicine Scholarship. In May, Marybeth travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa to attend a travel medicine course with the South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM). The intensive 5-day course covered all aspects of travel medicine. She also had the opportunity to see how a travel clinic operates at the Travel Doctor Clinic. We caught up with Marybeth to find out more about her vision for travel medicine in Kenya. Travel medicine beyond vaccines For Marybeth, one of the most valuable parts of the SASTM course was learning new ways to educate her patients ...

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 ...

Sandra in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Meet Sandra: Trail running and helping IAMAT members

We’re delighted to introduce you to Sandra Ferguson, our new Membership Officer! Sandra joined our team in July. She manages member services, donations, and administration at our office in Toronto, Canada. We caught up with Sandra to learn more about her travels and what she enjoys about her role at IAMAT. Where did you grow up? I was born in Calgary, Canada where I grew to love the mountains and outdoors. I settled in Toronto in my late twenties after living in London, England for 2 years. What is your most memorable travel experience? Living in London remains a highlight of my travel experiences because London was the gateway to travel in Europe and Britain. I was immersed in ...

Female malaria mosquito rests on a screen. Photo by Alexander Wild.

Malaria medication: your questions answered

World Mosquito Day is celebrated every year on August 20th to commemorate Sir Ronald Ross’ discovery in 1897 that female mosquitoes (later identified from the genus Anopheles) transmit malaria to humans. Since Ross’ discovery over 120 years ago, we certainly know more about malaria and how to prevent it, but there’s still a long way to go. Malaria continues to be endemic (regularly found) in many countries and due to increases in international travel, particularly to tropical areas, the number of malaria infections in travellers has been increasing. Misconceptions about the severity of malaria, how to prevent it, and areas of risk can lead travellers to arrive at their destination inadequately prepared and unprotected. Malaria can be prevented by ...

Man sitting on a mountaintop with a backpack.

True or false? 5 travel health myths debunked

Reliable travel health information is becoming easier to find online, but it’s not uncommon to see inaccurate information on forums, blogs, and other sources travellers rely on for trip planning advice. In this edition of True or false? we’re debunking 5 myths about water filters, tanning, mosquito bite prevention, tick removal, and jellyfish stings. Myth #1: “When I use a water filter, my water will always be safe to drink.” Water filters remove large contaminants like dirt, bacteria, and protozoan cysts, but viruses can be small enough to pass through the pores of a filter into your drinking water. (It’s especially important to remove or inactivate viruses like Hepatitis A in populated areas where sanitation is poor or inconsistent.) If ...