Vancouver, BC – Travel illnesses are no laughing matter; each year, thousands of Canadians end up spending their vacation curled up in bed—or worse, in hospital—because of a vaccine-preventable disease. That’s why the Vancouver Coastal Health Travel Clinic is reminding travelers to get properly vaccinated before you jet off to your next destination.
“When you travel abroad, you get exposed to bugs and viruses that your body may have never encountered before,” says Dr. Suni Boraston, medical director of the VCH Travel Clinic. “It’s really important for people to do their homework and find out what vaccines they might need before travelling to a specific area, and how far in advance they should be vaccinated. A little bit of preparation will save you from a lot of pain down the road.”
- Hepatitis A vaccine – This virus can be contracted by drinking untreated water, eating contaminated uncooked foods such as shellfish, or eating foods prepared in unsanitary conditions. It is one of the most common vaccine-preventable illnesses in travelers.
- Tetanus shot – Commonly known as lockjaw, it is a serious bacterial disease that can be deadly. About one in five people who get tetanus will die. The bacterium that causes tetanus can found in soil, dust and animal feces and the disease can develop from a cut or burn, ear infection or animal bite. After receiving the initial vaccines, a booster is required every 10 years.
- Dukoral vaccine – An oral vaccine that prevents traveler’s diarrhea. An episode of travelers’ diarrhea is estimated to cost $1,500, including $425 per day in travel, time and medical costs. Those affected lose an average of 3.5 days of vacation time.
- Malaria pills – The Travel Clinic recommends taking malaria pills. Malaria is a common and life-threatening disease in many tropical and subtropical areas. It is most often spread to humans via infected mosquitoes.
- Zika virus – The infection is caused by a virus which is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against it. Travellers should protect themselves during the day with mosquito repellent, long sleeves, and pants. DEET repellents are safe for pregnant women to use. Pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant during their travels or immediately afterwards should consider avoiding travel to areas where an outbreak is occurring. After being in an affected area women wishing to conceive should wait two months after returning. If the man has a confirmed case of Zika virus he should wait six months until having unprotected sex.
Appointments at the VCH Travel Clinic can be made by calling 604.736.9244, and more information can be found at http://travelclinic.vch.ca
. The clinic also offers an email consultation service for travelers who live outside the Lower Mainland and cannot access VCH’s travel clinic. The clinic also offers a variety of travel products such as mosquito nets and repellant.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Vancouver Coastal Health