Flu season is upon us. Here in the United States, flu season generally lasts from October to May, and it can kill up to 49,000 people per year in the US alone. But we aren’t the only country that gets affected by the flu. Earlier this year an India swine flu epidemic ravaged the country and more than 700 people were killed. Right now in Japan there is an outbreak of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), which has prompted the CDC to put out a travel advisory. HMFD presents as a fever accompanied by lesions in the mouth, on the hands, the feet, and the buttocks – it isn’t pleasant.
We’re not telling you about these outbreaks in order to scare you. On the contrary, we simply want you to be prepared when you travel to new places, whether foreign or domestic. It’s always a good idea to get your flu shot in early October, and you should also be aware of other travel vaccinations that you might need in order to make yourself safer in a foreign country.
Getting vaccinations before travel is a simple and effective way to help limit your exposure to diseases. Be aware that your immune system simply isn’t adapted to all sorts of climates and environments. If you visit a remote area, you may end up contracting a disease that barely affects the local population because they have grown immune to it.
Before you go anywhere unfamiliar, it’s a good idea to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website in order to figure out what travel vaccinations you might need. The great thing about this website is that it has suggestions for everyday travelers as well as seniors, children, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, and even suggestions for cruise ship travel.
We firmly believe that traveling is the best way to learn about the world around us, and we certainly don’t hope that fears of diseases will keep you from going anywhere that you want to go. That said, it’s always better to be prepared and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
Before your next big trip, schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure that you are (a) healthy enough for international travel and (b) up-to-date on all of your necessary vaccinations. Keep in mind that even if you’ve been recently vaccinated for malaria or swine flu, your standard vaccines might be out of date. As a general rule of thumb, make sure to know before you go, and be sure to check out our Flu Precautions to Take before Traveling Abroad blog for further information.