WHEN travelling overseas to visit friends and family, it’s easy to feel you’re simply ‘going home’ because you feel familiar with your destination. You may have been there many times before or even have lived there, but things can still go wrong whatever country you’re in.

Did you know that even if you have lived in a country in the past, you may no longer have any immunity to diseases common in that location? If your children have never lived there, they definitely won’t.

Major Lucy Gaal QARANC, from the Defence Public Health Unit, has the following advice…

Seek travel health guidance from your GP, nurse, pharmacist or travel clinic at least four-to-six weeks before travel, but even if time is short it’s not too late to get advice.

Some vaccines can be given at short notice and antimalarial tablets, if needed, can be started just before travel, or in some instances on the day you travel.

If you’re travelling to an area where insect-borne diseases such as sandfly fever, sleeping sickness, malaria or dengue fever exist, make sure you use an insect repellent covering exposed areas of skin, and sleep under a bed net.

Illnesses spread by contaminated food and drinks, like travellers’ diarrhoea or typhoid, are common in some countries. Only eat or drink from assured sources and wash your hands, especially before eating or drinking.

If you’re ill with symptoms such as fever, flu-like illness or persistent diarrhoea, after you get back seek immediate medical advice and tell your doctor where you’ve travelled.

For travel in Europe, carry your European Health Insurance Card and, for more distant locations, get comprehensive travel health insurance.

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