As we prepare for each new adventure that might await us, many of us tend to forget to take some prudent precautions regarding our health before we travel. Maybe it’s because this sort of menial task is boring and time-consuming; perhaps we don’t want to realize any potential conflicts that might dampen the jovial mood that is set. Whatever the reasons, it is a good idea to check out government websites before leaving, on the off-chance that there might be something dangerous brewing in the part of the world to which you’re heading.
There are regional dangers to look out for, whether it is geopolitical in nature or a small demonstration in a town’s square, but these aren’t my focus here. Health concerns, though, probably account for the largest portion of bad experiences people have on trips. From cholera in the Caribbean to just not being able to leave the porcelain throne due to some bad street food, sicknesses, diseases, and other ailments are prevalent in many parts of the world, and the chances are, if you are leaving to another country, there is something to look out for.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a U.S. federal agency whose goal, essentially, is to protect public health and keep people safe. Their focus is on prevention of illnesses, especially food-borne illnesses and infectious diseases, the kinds that can spread easily from one person to the next. The President of the United States appoints the CDC’s director himself/herself, and doesn’t even need Senate approval.
From their mouths:
CDC.gov is your online source for credible health information and is the official Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC is committed to achieving true improvements in people’s health. CDC applies research and findings to improve people’s daily lives and responds to health emergencies—something that distinguishes CDC from its peer agencies. Working with states and other partners, CDC provides a system of health surveillance to monitor and prevent disease outbreaks (including bioterrorism), implement disease prevention strategies, and maintain national health statistics. CDC also guards against international disease transmission, with personnel stationed in more than 25 foreign countries.
Though the majority of the CDC’s work involves monitoring for outbreaks and pandemics and prevention domestically, they constantly are aware of health concerns across the globe, even the trivial ones. They have a database on their website that is constantly updated with any health issues from near and far, and, for this reason alone, it is a good idea to check it out about a week or two before going on your next international trip.
The Traveler’s Health section of their site is devoted to making what we think would be a cumbersome task into a fairly easy and convenient tool. Some of the main sub-sections under Traveler’s Health include:
- Destinations – Over 200 countries and territories are listed here, which you can click on to view any information that you should be aware of. Clicking on a specific country brings you to a heavily-detailed page with travel notices in effect, safety and security information, suggested medicines to take with you, and vaccinations which are recommended prior to arrival.
- Vaccinations – If you are looking for any shots and inoculations which you might need before your trip, this is the place to look.
- Diseases – A database of all diseases related to travel, complete with history, prevention methods, and treatment options.
- Illness and Injury Abroad – A compilation of many articles designed to help you in case you experience illness or injury while abroad.
There are many other travel-related health and safety advisories on the site, and I urge you to check it out for yourself prior to your next trip abroad!