Health

 


 

Travel health is a major priority when planning your Round the World flight. Researching your travel destination beforehand is essential to find out the vaccination requirements as well as health advice regarding safe drinking, food, STDs, insect borne diseases and other travel related health issues.  Before setting off on your gap year travels, it's worth spending some time getting fit by walking, running, swimming and any number of different sports. Although travelling will make you fit and walking for long distances will seem quite normal after some time, exercising and eating healthily before you go will help prepare you for the journey ahead.

 

Also ensure that you leave plenty of time to obtain all the necessary vaccinations before setting off on your travels (although they can be done pretty quickly - this is an expensive option). This could be a few months in advance in some cases. Travel health issues will vary from country to country but some of the things to look out for include:

 

Too much sun
Heat stroke, sunburn, skin cancer and a variety of ill effects can all result from too much sun exposure. Babies, children and fair skinned people are at greater risk especially in tropical areas. The general advice here is to use a good sunscreen, drink lots of water, avoid over exertion, avoid alcohol, wear a hat, stay out of the mid day sun and minimise time spent on tanning.

 

Water and food
There are a large number of diseases which can be contracted from infected water and food including Escherichia coli, dysentery, giardiasis and hepatitis A. Less common diseases for travellers include typhoid and cholera. The general rule here is to drink bottled water (where the top has not been tampered with) and to use bottled water for brushing teeth. Water can also be treated by boiling, chemical disinfection through a tincture of iodine and through the use of portable water filters. With regards to food poisoning, travellers must be cautious when travelling in areas of poor hygiene and sanitation. Milk products, salads, uncooked or undercooked vegetables and meat must be avoided. Fruit which can be peeled and piping hot food is generally safe.

 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhoea and AIDS are commonly contracted through casual sex. Symptoms vary but early treatment is often essential to avoid long term complications. Prevention is through abstinence, using water based lubricants and through the use of latex condoms. Condoms can vary in quality and if in doubt, always try to purchase well known brands or buy them from home before travel.

If you have any concerns regarding a condition you may have or a travel health issue, consult your doctor before going and also ensure that you take out a good travel insurance policy.

 

Malaria

This is transmitted by the female mosquito usually during the period from dusk to dawn. Malaria can kill and early symptoms include chills, fever, body aches and sweating. For the prevention of malaria, travellers are advised to:
- wear light coloured long sleeve tops and trousers 
- take the appropriate malaria prophylaxis before, during and after the period of travel. 
- apply insect repellent. Both DEET based products and natural insect repellents such as those based on oil of eucalyptus and citronella are available.
- Use a mosquito net or stay in a room with mosquito netting on the windows.

 

Vaccination Chart

One vaccination does not automatically offer protection against a disease for life. Many vaccines need to be routinely boosted to offer continued protection. The following chart gives some idea of how often boosters should be administered according to the UK Guidelines. This chart is offered as a guideline (it is not definitive!) and should be used together with specialist advice from your travel health advisor or GP. Before travel you should ensure you have had all of your childhood routine vaccinations. Take advice from your GP about whether you really need Yellow Fever and Rabies inoculations depending on the areas you are going to. The following is a very general list of jabs most people would take on most general RTWs - but please make sure you see a qualified medical professional before you go.

 

Diphtheria/Tetanus Following initial course of five doses boost every 10 years for adults and adolescents Given as a Tetanus/Diphtheria combination for travel to risk areas
Hepatitis A First injection gives protection for one year. Booster at 6-18 months gives protection for 10 years - some vaccines can be boosted up to three years after first dose Protection occurs 10-14 days after the primary dose.
Japanese B Encephalitis Following primary course boost after 2 years  
Meningitis A&C After initial vaccination boost every 3-5 years Travel to Mecca - certificate of injection valid after 10 days.
Polio (oral) After initial course - boost every 10 years  
Tetanus/Diphtheria Following initial course of five doses boost every 10 years for adults and adolescents Given as a Tetanus/Diphtheria combination for travel to risk areas
Typhoid (injection) After initial vaccination boost every 3 years Partial protection occurs 10-14 days following first injection
Typhoid (oral) Following 3 capsule course protection lasts for 1-3 years Protection against typhoid following a 3 capsule course is 70% after 7-10 days after initial course
Yellow Fever After initial vaccination boost after 10 years Certificate valid 10 days after vaccination