For Americans who travel overseas this summer, there's a risk that they could bring back more than just photographs or souvenirs.
Infectious diseases remain a threat in many developing nations. Dr. Emily Senay shared some advice for safe traveling with The Early Show June 9.
Senay says there are six questions travelers need to ask before leaving for vacation.
1. Are you immunized?
This means not only the immunizations for the country you're going to, but make sure you're up-to-date on the immunizations you need for this country, like tetanus, chicken pox, pneumonia, and even influenza if you're traveling during flu season.
Senay says that no matter where you're traveling, it's also a good idea to consider hepatitis A and hepatitis B immunization. Some areas will also require immunizations against diseases like yellow fever.
2. Do you need malaria protection?
"Seven million people travel to developing countries where malaria is common," Senay says. "You need to start thinking about how you're going to protect yourself against mosquitoes."
Items to bring include insect repellent with 10% DEET and protective clothing. Talk to your doctor about prescribing a medicine that you can take a couple of weeks before you travel. Keep in mind that there are a lot of drug-resistant malaria strains, and the Centers for Disease Control keeps a list of the best malaria medications on their Web site.
3. Do you need diarrhea protection?
Senay says that many people think they need to take antibiotics before traveling to prevent diarrhea, but she says it's not a good idea to take them before you go. Instead, bring some antibiotics with you in case you get ill while traveling.
4. Is the water supply safe?
"Cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it," Senay says. "If the food isn't well-cooked, if the food isn't peeled, and the water isn't boiled, do not eat it. Carbonated beverages are the safest."
5. Are you insured?
"Find out if your company covers you overseas," she says. "Medicare, for example, does not cover you overseas." Sometimes, if your insurance will not cover you, you can buy specialized travel insurance.
6. Are there special circumstances?
Senay says the Internet is a good place to go for information about overseas travel. She recommends the Centers for Disease Control Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel for specific recommendations on travel to every country.
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