Doctors from Utah say that when planning vacations and travels, you should think about health.

Doctors at the Health University of Utah Health Travel Clinic help travelers prevent travel-related health problems during the summer by planning ahead. (Spencer Heeps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — With the onset of summer, many Utahs are planning vacations. Doctors at the University of Utah Travel Clinic say such planning should include health considerations. That means getting immunized, being aware of health issues at the travel destination, and considering insurance.

The Utah State University Travel Clinic helps people prepare for international vacations and get information on how to make sure health issues don’t interrupt vacations. Clinic doctors urged international summer travelers to prepare and prevent travel-related health issues at a press conference on Friday.

Steps before the trip

Dr. Jakrapoon Pupaibul, assistant professor of infectious diseases at the University of Utah Public Health, said they are focusing on travel preparation, though they also treat post-travel illnesses for people who return with fever, diarrhea, respiratory problems and more.

“We like that they enjoy this trip and don’t get sick during the trip,” he said.

Pupaibul said at the clinic that doctors are assessing the risk taking into account the place of vacation, duration and intended activities, as well as the state of health of the person. Individual advice may include immunizations, over-the-counter medications, and even prescription antibiotics to take with you on a trip and use as needed.

Clinic appointments fill up and it also takes time for some vaccines to become effective, so it’s important to plan ahead for this. Pupaibool suggests meeting with a doctor about six weeks prior to travel.

Pupaibul said the data show that about 20-25% of travelers have health problems while traveling or shortly after returning home. He said dietary changes due to travel can lead to diarrhea, which is what they see most often. Pupaibool said they can prescribe medication for this before traveling, but travelers should also bring over-the-counter medication with them to treat mild diarrhea.

The second most common problem is fever from infections such as malaria, which can also be addressed before travel.

“Many of the infections that we see are preventable… either with a vaccine or with drugs,” Pupaibul said.

He said some vaccines are needed to enter the country or get a visa, but they can recommend more. Some vaccines, such as the yellow fever vaccine, are not available from primary care physicians but can be purchased from the travel clinic. The clinic can also help people learn about other routine adult vaccines.

Pupaibool also invites you to check local health care information before you travel and see if your health insurance or travel insurance will help you get international medical care.

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