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Information for Travelers

All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

-Wash hands often with soap and water.
-Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
-Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
-Don't eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
-Don't share needles with anyone.
-Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
-Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.

Travelers visiting undeveloped areas should take the following precautions:

To stay healthy, do...

-Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an "absolute 1-micron or less" filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. "Absolute 1-micron filters" are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
-If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
-Protect yourself from insects by remaining in well-screened areas, using repellents (applied sparingly at >4-hour intervals) and permethrin-impregnated mosquito nets, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants from dusk through dawn.
-To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.

To avoid getting sick...

-Don't eat food purchased from street vendors.
-Don't drink beverages with ice.
-Don't handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs, and cats), to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague).
-Don't swim in fresh water. Salt water is usually safer.

What you need to bring with you:

-Long-sleeved shirt and long pants to wear whenever possible to prevent illnesses carried by insects
-Insect repellent containing DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide), in 30%-35% strength for adults and 6%-10% for children. If you are not staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, you should purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin. (Bed nets can be purchased in camping or military supply stores.)
-Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine to take if you have diarrhea.
-Iodine tablets and portable water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available.
-Sunblock, sunglasses, hat.
-Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of the prescription(s).
-Eye glasses or contact lens; take an extra pair or have your prescription.

After you return home:

-If you have visited an area where there is risk for malaria, continue taking your malaria medication weekly for 4 weeks after you leave the area. If you become ill-even as long as a year after your return-tell your doctor where you have traveled.

Specific information can be given to you when you schedule a visit to Health Service.

Start planning at least 1 month before you leave as immunizations need time to be effective.

The following immunizations are available. See the immunization section on this web site for more details.

In general, you should be up-to-date or be immunized with the following:

Tetanus/Diphtheria - This shot protects you against these diseases and is especially important to have current if you have an injury that breaks the skin. The shot date should within 10 years.
Hepatitis A - This shot protects you against the Hepatitis A virus, which is transmitted in unsafe food and water supplies in areas of questionable sanitation.
Hepatitis B - This shot protects you against the Hepatitis B virus, which is a pathogen passed through blood and body fluids through wounds or sexual transmission. Remember that if you are in an accident and need to have a blood transfusion, the blood supply in another country may not be as safe as it is in the U.S.
Typhoid - This shot protects you against this disease which is transmitted in areas of questionable sanitary conditions, particularly in developing countries.

Malaria is a disease spread by the bite of a mosquito and is prevalent in many parts of the world. The preventive medicine must be taken before, during, and after your travel. The Health Service physician can prescribe the pill(s) for you to take while being exposed to this disease.

We also urge all travelers to have a current insurance policy and check to see how it handles overseas emergencies.

Connect to the Center for Disease Controls Travel web site for more information at or phone 877-394-8747.

The Madison County Health Department (MCHD)
101 E. Edwardsville Rd
Wood River IL 62095
Call (618) 692-8954
Free travel advisory service.
They will send you a printout of the information regarding immunizations, medicines, care, and precautions.

International Travel Clinic (through the Outpatient Division of the Infectious Diseases on the Washington University Medical Center campus)
4570 Childrens Place, St.Louis MO 63110
314-362-9098 (call for appt - open 8:00 to 4:30 Monday - Friday)
Ask about costs.

Passport Health
8390 Delmar Boulevard
Suite 205
St. Louis MO 63124
Ask about costs.

Southern Illinois University Med School (Springfield)
217-545-8970 (appointment)
217-545-9537 (general info)
Ask about costs.

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