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Common health tips for travelers

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Spring is in the air, and those suffering from cabin fever after winter need to get outside as soon as possible.

For many, the time to plan a trip to visit friends and family, sit on a tropical beach, or even see some historical landmarks has come.

When planning a trip outside the U. S., there are serious health risks you need to be aware of and factor into your vacation planning. Each country has unique health risks, and your Public Health Flight can help you prepare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 percent of travelers are expected to experience health problems when visiting developing countries. It takes your body time to adjust to the water, food, pathogens and temperature differences.

Here are a few travel tips to help reduce health risks. First, always wash your hands. Dirty fingers are most common culprits for introducing harmful pathogens to the body. Frequent hand washing and correct use of hand sanitizers can significantly reduce your potential disease risks.

Second, drink bottled water. Water in developing countries can possibly contain viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Remember to be safe by using only bottled or purified water for drinking, making ice cubes and brushing your teeth.

Third, bring appropriate clothing and insect repellant. Knowing the expected weather will help keep you protected. Using the correct insect repellant can help prevent contracting certain kinds of disease.

Lastly, have up-to-date immunizations. Current immunizations are an important component of avoiding disease. Most vaccines take time to become effective, so be sure to visit public health four to six weeks before traveling. Some countries have immunizations requirements to enter, and public health can identify all appropriate immunizations.

By following theses simple steps travelers can help to reduce their potential disease risks. For detailed information about a specific country, please visit the PHF. For more information about this or any other public health topic, call (208) 828-7280.