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Foreign Travel (cont.)

The Basics

Preparing for the trip: Travel to a developing country requires careful planning.

  • Insect precautions: Insects spread many tropical diseases.
  • For most travelers, the biggest insect danger comes from mosquitoes. Travelers to developing countries should carry an insect repellent containing the ingredient DEET. Mosquitoes can spread very serious diseases, including malaria and yellow fever. This is not a time for herbal preparations or mild lotions (such as Skin-so-Soft). Insect repellents should be applied and reapplied according to package directions. Remember that the malaria mosquito bites at night. In malarious areas, wear insect repellent to bed and use mosquito netting if it is available. Room sprays containing permethrin may also be used. For prolonged travel, clothing may be treated with permethrin to serve as a long-term repellent.
  • During the day, wear light protective clothing. Long sleeves and pants help reduce the risk of bites. Ticks are also a concern in many developing countries. If traveling in fields or woods, tuck your pant legs into your socks. At the end of the day, check yourself for ticks. The risk of disease increases if ticks are allowed to attach for more than 24 hours. Insect repellents reduce the risk of tick attachment.
  • The traveler's medical kit: In developing countries, even simple medical supplies may be hard to find. For this reason, pack some basic supplies.
  • Keep prescription drugs in their original bottles. Customs officials are not pleased to see plastic bags full of loose pills. For travelers with complex medical problems, a letter from a doctor or a copy of a recent electrocardiogram may be helpful. If you have one, a copy of your personal health record should be included.
  • The American Embassy or Consulate usually will be able to provide a list of doctors who speak English if you need a doctor.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/10/2014

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